EXPRESSING concerns about the dwindling number of masqueraders who played mas in San Fernando for 2020, mayor of the city Junia Regrello has appealed to San Fernandians to stay home for Carnival 2021.
“Give our south bands the support,” Regrello said as he announced winners for Carnival 2020 at City Hall on Thursday. Band of the Year winner in the large category Ivan Kalicharan said this was the worst year for his band.
Kalicharan, who has won the title 27 times, said just over 500 masqueraders played mas with his band this year, down from approximately 800 last year. Second- and third-place winners Lionel Jagessar and Associates and Fire Works Promotions also experienced a vast reduction in their numbers, which were under 500.
Kalicharan attributed this to “the economy. The whole country is dead. Business is bad. People are losing their jobs day after day. People don’t have money.”
Regrello said a number of government projects would soon be coming on stream in San Fernando and that would boost employment and create added revenue that would encourage participation in Carnival 2021.
In spite of those setbacks, Kalicharan said he was not yet ready to bow out of competition.
“You see, mas is something within you. You can’t help it. It’s like a spirt. It has to come out. The only time I will done is when the master send me down. I will be here for a couple years well.”
Regrello shared with bandleaders and the media conversations he had on Facebook with San Fernandians who played mas in Port of Spain, admitting he “bashed" a few people and got into some heated arguments over their choice and right to play where they wanted.
He said he understood that position but: “San Fernando has to survive and we need your support to do so. Charity begins at home.”
Regrello thanked all the bandleaders, masqueraders, designers and other stakeholders “who made the effort to make Carnival in San Fernando the success that it was.
“I congratulate and urge you all to continue soldiering on as we (the San Fernando City Corporation) move steadfastly and assiduously behind the scenes to ensure Carnival in San Fernando is alive and successful.”
He expressed disappointment that people were no longer interested in the folk mas and even the Indian mas that once enjoyed popularity in the southern city.
“We have to find new ways, innovative ways to attract people to play mas in San Fernando,” he said.
The mayor said meetings would be held soon with stakeholders to plan the way forward for Carnival 2021.