Reviving Woodbrook’s spirit

Sophia Mar plays with her windmill at the Easter bonnet parade and craft market at Siegert Square, Woodbrook.  - AYANNA KINSALE
Sophia Mar plays with her windmill at the Easter bonnet parade and craft market at Siegert Square, Woodbrook. - AYANNA KINSALE

The Woodbrook Community Council wants to revive the area’s limping community soul, and it hopes to do so through a series of events aimed at children and families.

The council held one of the first events it hopes to achieve this with on April 10 – Easter Monday.

It held an Easter bonnet parade, craft market and Easter egg hunt at Siegert Square, Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.

This is just one of many to come for the council, its chairperson Ashelle Waddell said.

The council was formed in 2020 and has ten people.

Siblings Ariana Hughes, 10, left, and Sariah Felix, 7, display their costumes The New Era in Easter at the Easter bonnet parade and craft market at Siegert Square, Woodbrook. - AYANNA KINSALE

“Woodbrook is generally known for the party atmosphere, Carnival activities, and this is just one of the positive activities we want to reintroduce to the community because we want to remind people who live here, as well as those outside that people still live here,” Waddell said.

A 2011 census said Woodbrook’s population was 3,382 and there is little doubt that that has grown over the last 12 years.

Natalie Howe of Dé-Colle-Té displays her necklaces at the Easter bonnet parade and craft market at Siegert Square, Woodbrook on Monday. - AYANNA KINSALE

Waddell said the council had planned an itinerary of community-based activities in 2020 but it was paused because of the covid19 pandemic.

However, the council plans to move ahead with these this year, and to host events once a quarter.

These events will be community-oriented and “fun for everyone,” she said.

She said there was “an overwhelming response” from residents to Monday’s events when it was posted to the council’s Facebook page and issued via e-mailed.

“Everyone just loved the fact that there is something different in the neighbourhood and it is not wine and jam,” Waddell said.

Some of the area’s residents were seen sitting on benches awaiting the 1 pm start of the Easter parade.

“The fact is Woodbrook was never a Diamond Vale, Diego Martin, it was never 100 per cent residents. It was always a mix but over the years the balance became skewed, and it is more business now, and rules and regulations don’t happen anymore.

Madena Donald-Baird of Ashley’s Only 1 Bags shows her bags at the Easter bonnet parade and craft market at Siegert Square, Woodbrook. - AYANNA KINSALE

“But we are building relationships because a lot of businesses in the community have sponsored this event, including some of the bars. We have to build that relationship with them because that is the only way we are going to be able to co-exist,” she said.

Waddell said people did not live in Woodbrook to get peace and quiet, but instead came because they liked the “little action” they got.

She said the council was working with the area’s businesses to bridge the gap with the community and believes this is the only way to improve relations.

Woodbrook councillor June Durham was also present at the event and worked with the council to have it done.

Durham said the event was the brainchild of the late Sharon Cedeno.

“Before covid we wanted to do a parade down Ariapita Avenue but because of covid and how things have changed, we want to get back to community,” Durham said.

She said the area’s children had nothing to do during the holidays and the council decided since events were being held over the long weekend it would host something on Monday.

“We have done wonderful bags so when they go home, they have snacks, toys…, so we got a whole set and put them into the bags. They are getting free snow-cone and free popcorn, so we are trying to bring the community back, especially activities for the kids.”

The council along with Durham also plan to have activities during the July/August school-vacation period, such as cycling.

“Children can’t ride because of traffic and stuff but we hope to create areas and times where they can actually ride their bikes,” she said.

The council and Durham also plan to host fun games on a Saturday utilising the community’s parks and open spaces to make these a family affair, ensuring that parents also participate with their children.

She said the council and community had the support of Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez.

She called on the area’s businesses to work with them, saying, “Businesses are growing, the dwelling areas are fading. But we have people who have homes here who have been living here for 150 years; we can’t afford to lose our burgesses in this area. Such long-standing residents have complained about the effect of night-time entertainment and Carnival events.

“So, if we can work together, it would be wonderful,” Durham said.

The day’s event included activities such as musical freeze and the Easter bonnet parade with the eldest contestant being over 60.

There were 11 vendors at the craft market and 33 contestants in the parade.

Waddell said the Port of Spain City Corporation allowed the council to use the square without any cost and got assistance from the businesses such as Massy Stores, Smokey and Bunty, JMMB and Maracas Bake and Shark.


"Reviving Woodbrook’s spirit"

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