DESPITE missing steel beams and other issues during construction, it was clear the North Stand and Panorama had made a strong return to Carnival after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.
Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore said on Sunday afternoon that over 5,000 tickets were sold for the stand that was closed in 2018.
There were already hundreds of people in the stand by the Panorama semifinals 1 pm start.
Ramsey-Moore said she was at a loss for words when asked to describe how she felt about the response to the event.
She said she was “so proud” of what was happening, looking on as thousands of people filled the stand.
“It is our Diamond Jubilee and thus far, we are only rolling up the medium bands, you can imagine what is going to take place later when the large bands enter this space,” she said, speaking to the growing crowd.
She anticipated the stand would reach its full 7,000 capacity and the Grand Stand would have about 2,000 people.
She thanked TT and pan lovers worldwide for the event’s success.
“Pan is definitely on a higher note and this energy will continue. We continue into April with the return of Pan in the 21st century.”
Ramsey-Moore said the instrument was now being safeguarded by the nation’s youth and they were in the panyards.
Pan was also keeping the youth safe, “It is like drums for peace,” she added.
Unlike previous Panoramas, activity at the Greens was scheduled to be held later where a number of artistes were expected to perform. “That, too, will be extremely wonderful,” she said.
For pan player, young Brenndon George of Supernovas Steel Orchestra it was good to be back.
He said many used Panorama as an earning tool and was glad for the return of pan players’ remittances. It was announced in January by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts that each player would receive $500. This was good news for George.
“Any way I can get more money, I am always pleased,” he said. He has been playing pan for ten years.
Marlon Benjamin from Laventille strolled along The Drag listening to different bands playing before taking the stage. For him, there was an atmosphere of love.
“I have not heard music so clean in so long,” he said.
Benjamin said he felt it was definitely different from how it used to be, noting that, at the time the medium bands played, there were not many people on The Drag when compared with previous Panoramas.
This was Cliff Ragoo’s first time being in the North Stand and he was enjoying the energy.
San Fernandian Nigel Forgenie and his crew said they all felt “good” being back in the Stand after years.
“One of the things that’s different this year, is the crowds have started out a little earlier than normal. Usually you will get here around this time (about 3.30 pm) and you would have people still coming in. Now we can’t even find room to put our tables and so,” he said.
He said it was a real bumper year and it was a little confusing.
“So far, the vibe is good. It is good to be back and see people representing their various sections,” he said.
The competition began promptly at 1 pm and moved smoothly between bands. A total of 15 bands competed in the medium category – for 12 spots in the finals; while 14 competed in last night's large band category.
The Carib Street, San Fernando band, Pan Elders, started the competition in the medium category.
Many of the bands played older songs such as the late Winston “The Explainer” Henry’s Lorraine and Timothy “Baron” Watkins’ Tell Me Why.
Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart’s 2022 hit Mash Up was played by two bands: Curepe Scherzando and San City Steel Symphony.
The 2020 medium band winners, NGC Couva Joylanders played Sylvester “Poser” Lockhart’s The Fete Ent Over Yet.
Soca star Machel Montano made a guest appearance and waved the flag for Siparia Deltones who played The Meeting, a song done by Montano and late South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
There were riddim sections and corporate groups in the North Stand. Pamberi ended its performance at 6.25 pm, bringing an end to the medium-band component of the semis.