After thanking Republic Bank for its sponsorship of the Junior Parade of the Bands for the better part of a decade, National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters expressed pleasure that local bank First Citizens (FC) has now stepped up to take over.
He was speaking at the media launch of the parade at the NCC VIP Lounge, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Thursday.
Peters wants to give the event a new label – Children’s Saturday. He said, for decades the parade has enjoyed a safe place within TT’s Carnival as one of the most anticipated and attended events, and the NCC is working with the bank to keep it that way.
“The FC Junior Parade of the Bands is a gift to the nation that we are proud to have, and proud to give. We look forward to working with FC as we light up the streets of PoS and Carnival City with the smiles of thousands of junior masqueraders.”
Noting that Carnival is exactly one month away, Peters acknowledged there was a bit of work left to be done but all stakeholders are working towards its success.
The bank’s deputy CEO of operations and administration, Prof Sterling Frost, said: “The home of the greatest show on earth is also the home of FC and, as a truly home-grown entity, we are committed to the enrichment and the development of our local culture. This strong sense of responsibility to preserve what belongs to us has driven our decision to partner with the NCC, through the TT Carnival Bands Association, as the title sponsor for the FC Junior Parade of Bands for the very first time.”
He said the junior parade, which started in 1974, has evolved into an integral aspect of TT’s Carnival and, though other types of mas are important, children’s mas, with its potential to influence the sustainability of Carnival, is what makes it so critical.
NCC CEO, Colin Lucas said the parade route is the same as last year, and the NCC will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of National Security and the police, to ensure that the event is a safe and enjoyable one.
He also spoke of an initiative, started last year, when children from distant schools and children’s homes were taken to Port of Spain to see the parade. Lucas said it is the intention of the NCC to include more schools this year.
Schools supervisor and chairman of the Junior Parade of the Bands, Carl Thomas, said the Ministry of Education wants to get the parade back to a time when 80 per cent of the bands were actual school bands. Such bands, he said, have dwindled over the years.
This led to the ministry, four years ago, to embark on a Carnival in Education initiative.
Thomas said since then several projects including, teachers’ seminars and workshops, have been done in PoS and Tobago, and more will be done in the six other educational districts of Trinidad.
“We also intend to have field trips for schools to go to certain targeted mas bands where teachers and students can interact with persons who are involved in developing the mas.”