Carnival celebrations in Tobago kicked off on Friday with a colourful parade of masqueraders through the streets of Scarborough.
The masqueraders, comprising inter-department posses from the various Tobago House of Assembly (THA) divisions, schools, community organisations and die-hard mas lovers, gathered at historic James Park for the official start of the parade.
Among them was popular Sangre Grande masman Kenrick Watch, who made the trip to Tobago to participate in the launch.
Watch, who has been portraying the fancy sailor for decades, has won numerous Carnival competitions in TT and overseas.
"I am international," a smiling Watch told Newsday as he danced his khaki-coloured sailor outfit.
Tobago Festival Commission Ltd director George Leacock, dressed in white as a sailor/astronaut, also was on hand to launch the event.
Accompanied by a large music truck with police escort, the masqueraders jumped and chipped to this year's popular soca tunes as they made their way downtown, in the heart of the capital city.
There, they were joined by other groups of traditional characters, positioned at strategic points in Scarborough. These included blue devils, moko jumbies, black Indians, midnight robbers, baby dolls, clowns and dame lorraines.
Tourists and locals enjoyed the spectacle. Many of them captured the lively images on their cellphones.
Veteran soca artiste Shurwayne Winchester, who sang from the music truck, whipped the crowd into a frenzy with some of his hits from yesteryear, including Open De Gate and De Band Coming.
Festivals Commission board member Anthony Arnold Jr, delivering brief remarks on behalf of commission chairman Dr Suzanne Burke and others, urged Tobagonians, especially the young people, to participate fully in Carnival.
At a news conference outside of the GNV Place (Festivals Commission headquarters) on Wilson Road, Arnold said the annual event provided an opportunity for creativity, innovation, and enjoyment.
This year's theme is The Best Little Carnival In The Region.
"As you are aware, Tobago is branded as the festivals destination, as Carnival is one of the major attractions for visitors on the island. We, at the Festivals Commission, recognise that our Carnival is unique and distinct."
Arnold said the commission supported bandleaders, panmen, calypsonians and all other stakeholders in the industry.
Leacock, in his address, thanked the National Carnival Commission, the Windward Carnival Committee, inter-department teams, and Winchester for supporting the launch.