Recession, crime, the deadly H1N1 (swine flu) and the threat of the Zika virus all combined threw a damper on this year’s Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, dubbed the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
The state of the economy from declining oil prices forced several major pre-Carnival fetes to be cancelled and poor attendance at some of the popular all-inclusive fetes compared to the years before. The short carnival season had also impacted on the 2016 celebrations.
However, thousands of revelers took to the streets on Carnival Monday and Tuesday for the parade of the ‘Mas’ bands at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
In the King and Queen of the Bands competition, Ted Eustace portraying “Pychedelic- Nightmares” took the title King of the Bands, while Gloria Dallsingh was crowned Queen of the Bands with her portrayal of “Artemisia” D Warrior Queen last Wednesday night at the “Savannah.”
In another major National Carnival Commission (NCC) competition “Kaisorama,” which featured eight competitors for the 2016 Extempo Calypso Monarch title, former People’s Partnership (PP) government Culture Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters dethroned the 2015 champion, blind singer, Joseph “Lingo” Vautor-La Placerliere to take his ninth National Extempo title at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain last Thursday night. “Lingo” placed second.
Gypsy, who was a finalist in the Dimanche Gras Calypso Monarch competition on Sunday night at the Savannah placed sixth.
The former minister took a break from calypso competition after he became a government minister but returned to the stage after the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration lost the general election last year.
In another major competition — the 2016 International Soca Monarch competition — 23-year-old Aaron “Voice” St. Louis won the title from 19 other competitors with his monster hit “Cheers to Life,” which included last year’s winner Olatunji at the Hasley Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain,.
St. Louis is the youngest soca singer to capture the title on debut. In second place was Akeem “Preddy” Chance, who fashioned himself of a long-time calypsonian Pretender.
In the National Panaroma Championship (Large band category) competition held on Saturday night at the “Savannah,” Desperadoes Steel Orchestra captured their 11th National Panorama title. The band from the hills of Laventille, a few miles from the city of Port of Spain, described as a crime “hot spot,” had to wait for 16 years to regain the title.
In second place was Super Nova. Defending champions Trinidad All Stars placed 6th in the 10-band competition.
“Despers” sent the crowd wild with its performance in ninth position playing a Carlton “Zanda” Alexander’s arrangement of the soca “Different Me” written by Jovan James.
In the final pre-Carnival competition — Dimanche Gras — held on Sunday night at the “Savannah” Devon Seale was crowned the 2016 Calypso Monarch.
After placing second last year, Seale delivered two masterful performances — “Respect God’s Voice” and “Spirit of Carnival” to beat a strong field of 10 contenders.
“Respect God’s Voice” was directed at former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who reminded her that she was fond of saying Vox Populi, Vox Dei — the voice of the people is the voice of God.
He tells her that the people made their choice by voting her out of office at the last election so she should respect that decision and not be a sore loser.
Helon Francis, 22, the Young King Calypso Monarch, who was making his first appearance at the Savannah’s “Big Yard,” placed second, while Roderick “Chucky” Gordon who was attempting a hat-trick placed third.