We were promised a Dimanche Gras of surprise and spectacle and, boy, did we get more than we bargained for. This was a show that was too hot to handle: memorable for all the wrong reasons.
A Carnival King finalist, perhaps taking a cue from Calypso Rose’s classic anthem Fire, Fire, burst into flames in the middle of the stage, the masquerader narrowly escaping death on live television.
We today hail the amazing efficiency and speed of the Fire Service officers who responded when Ravi Lakhan’s costume – fittingly named Diablo: Lord of Conflict and Terror – caught fire. Their actions quickly contained what could have been a fatal incident not only for Lakhan (who managed to extricate himself speedily from his costume) but also all of the patrons gathered at the Queen’s Park Savannah. The large portrayal could have easily been fully engulfed, sending debris into the air and colliding with crowded stands. This was too close for comfort.
The excellent response of the Fire Service notwithstanding, it should be taken as a wake-up call when it comes to the need for closer regulation of this aspect of the competition. There are clear rules for masqueraders when it comes to fire safety. Performers are supposed to get permission from authorities, deploy the use of flame-retardant materials, and submit to a careful inspection by officers. This begs several questions: Are these rules being properly implemented? Are the rules tight enough? Is it time to consider a complete ban on pyrotechnics or fire effects?
Given how popular tropes like dragons and devils have become in the larger mas, if no action is taken to review this incident carefully, instead of catching feelings more masqueraders might be catching fire in the near future. Carnival is supposed to be hot, but not that hot.
All of the commess effectively upended a contest in which Ted Eustace secured his fourth victory, cementing the dominance of the Eustace clan on the King of Carnival competition. We congratulate Eustace as well as second place, Joseph Lewis (last year’s King) and Marlon Rampersad, who secured third.
We also congratulate Roxanne Omalo who secured the crown, pulling off an upset with her Game of Thrones-inspired Mother of Dragons – Keeper of Light. Omalo dominated the competition, which included the popular Minshall Queen, The Power of Love, portrayed with amazing skill by Sevel Nicholls. Third place was Kerina Badal.
The overall format of the show saw it shorn of the Calypso Monarch competition. Still, it managed to be over long. Coming in just under five hours, the NCC should reconsider this change. While there were highly entertaining guest performances, the overall tenor of the show seemed more like a pleasing concert, lacking calypso’s penetrating heat. Though Lahkan ensured there was still heat in the place.