Even though Carnival 2023 has been dubbed the Mother of all Carnivals, yesterday’s opening of the two-day revelry failed to attract the usual crowd of spectators that often line the streets, anxiously awaiting the official 4 am start of J’Ouvert.
The Lord Kitchener Stand at the downtown judging point, Broadway, Port-of-Spain, remained virtually empty by 8 am, whilst those gathered along the pavement were less than in past years.
As thousands gathered at various mas camps and meeting points in and around the capital eagerly awaiting the designated time to head unto the streets, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez read the proclamation aloud for the first time in two years. However, it was to a much smaller crowd than in previous years.
Before the start of the revelry at 4 am, there was a heavy police presence which saw the number of law enforcement officers outnumbering members of the public.
Asked what he felt could have led to the poor turnout, Martinez joked, “I hope people haven’t forgotten.”
Revellers enjoy themselves with Zess Nation during J'Ouvert on Ariapita Avenue.
KRISTIAN DE SILVA
However, he added that it could probably be that people had been readying themselves to play mas which could have accounted for lower spectator numbers.
Carnival had to be cancelled in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so its return this year was anticipated to attract some 20,000-plus visitors.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell commended Trinidadians for being resilient as he declared, “This is it, we are here. It is time to exhale after two years of uncertainty and restriction.”
Approximately 30 bands were registered for J’Ouvert this year, while a total of 68 mas bands were registered overall.
He said that his ministry was currently engaged in a study to ascertain just how successful the entire Carnival season has been–and this will include the plethora of all-inclusive parties and fetes that were on the calendar leading up to Monday and Tuesday.
Mitchell disagreed with claims by promoters that the events were not as well attended as they ought to have been.
He said, “I don’t know that to be actually true. I think there have been a considerable number of fetes over and above what we usually see especially in this short period, so we are doing some assessments now.”
Mitchell said he was happy with the build-up leading to the two days of revelry which he believed was quite successful and exciting.
Both Martinez and Mitchell were pleased that several cruise liners had docked in T&T waters boosting visitor arrivals during the past several days.
bp Renegades revellers pass in front of the empty stands durng the Downtown Carnival Committee's J’Ouvert celebrations, South Quay, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Red Ants revellers enjoy themselves during J'Ouvert celebrations.
KRISTIAN DE SILVA