Junior Queen of Carnival finds solace in mas

Junior Queen of Carnival 2024, Jayda Forde, portrays Princess Eleu, Protector of the Island. - Photo courtesy Andrea De Silva
Junior Queen of Carnival 2024, Jayda Forde, portrays Princess Eleu, Protector of the Island. - Photo courtesy Andrea De Silva


At just 15 years old, Jayda Forde has achieved what many Carnival lovers dream about. The Chaguanas teen has clinched this year's coveted title of Junior Queen of Carnival with her awe-inspiring portrayal of Princess Eleu, Protector of the Island. Forde shared her journey to victory with Sunday Newsday.

For Forde, masquerading is more than a tradition; it’s a lifelong passion.

“At the age of two, my mom took me to observe the Sunshine Snacks Parade of the Bands and I saw my friend from daycare in her stroller crying. She didn’t want to put on her costume. I wore it for her and had a time! It ignited a passion that has since defined my path,” she said.

Since then, the Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain student has looked forward to putting on a costume and parading through the streets as often as she could. “From the tender age of three I first adorned myself in masquerade with Classix Productions, under the guidance of Band Leader, Vanessa Forde,” she recalled.

Forde is ecstatic about her newest title, and the joy was evident as she described her winning costume and the creative process behind it to Sunday Newsday.

“My costume was designed and built by Uncle Mike (Mike Johnson),” she shared proudly. This marks the third year he has crafted her costume, a testament to their collaborative synergy.

“By now Uncle Mike knows my likes and dislikes and he knows my passion for playing mas.”

The theme of her costume, she said, emerged from the overarching theme of the band, Look Everybody Come for Carnival! It's a manifestation of her love for the festival and her desire to embody the spirit of celebration and protection.

Despite her demanding academic schedule, Forde said she finds solace and inspiration in her masquerading pursuits. Rehearsals blend seamlessly into her daily routine, driven by her innate connection to the music and the transformative power of Carnival.

“Music makes me move. Carnival is about the love for the music and the feeling it gives you. Once I get into my costume, I naturally become it.”

Asked how her friends are reacting to her win, the form five student said, “This is not really a side of me my friends know, but those who do are very proud of me.”

Forde’s family plays an integral role in participation in the mas culture, offering unwavering support every step of the way.

“My family is very supportive of me. My mom in particular is extremely supportive, as she drives me to every competition and performance, makes sure that I am okay, pays for everything, helps me out when I am struggling in the wind and believes in me.”

When asked about the challenges of her craft, Forde’s response said with a laugh, “The wind!”

But, she said, amidst the challenges lie abundant rewards.

“The ability to have fun in my costume as it is well built, and of course, all the prizes as well.”

Her motto is, “Do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life,” and it encapsulates her approach to masquerading and life itself. For her, it’s all about having fun and embracing one’s passions wholeheartedly.

Looking ahead, the youngster harbours dreams beyond the Carnival stage.

“I would like to become a chef,” she said.

“I do not want to continue mas when I become an adult. As I prefer a costume with a concept, I may continue in the Kiddies Carnival by helping to create the costumes.”


"Junior Queen of Carnival finds solace in mas"

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