J’Ouvert Crowds Big-Up Harlequins & Pierrots

They tried some French stuff on Flatbush and Empire, and the hordes lining the parade route almost killed them with encores. And so, Roy Pierre and Associates soaked it all in – bathing in the drizzle – and the glory, too, which fell like Caribbean poui flowers along Brooklyn’s Champs Élysées. Leaving everybody in Paris for a day.

Judging by reaction on the streets to Harlequins & Pierrots, the people’s choice might very well pave the way for the band’s 16th title in 19 years.

Harlequins dress up in multicolored, diamond-patterned tights, and carry a wooden sword or magic wand. While Pierrots, male characters in white face in a kind of French pantomime, don white, baggy duds. But Pierre costumed his band in black and white. And the revelers – who held props like canes, walking sticks and umbrellas – gave the mas a kind of splendiferous newsprint clarity that underscored the multi-layered theme.

It was more than just theater, though.

Smack in the middle of the domino effect, a red Harlequin doll displayed an abrupt change in tone and mood, which provided the relief – not at all comic – that Trinidad and Tobago had finally achieved 50 years of Independence from Britain.

That Roy Pierre and Associates said it all on a wet dawn brimming with art, couture, comedy and history, the picture he painted seemed to belie any artifacts of the mas that usually parade later in the day on the Parkway.

And that’s an achievement, considering Pierre’s mas makers had won Band of the Year in 1974 with Midnight at the Oasis on that humongous blacktop, only to prove its greatness year in and year out on a smaller, yet richer, platform.

C’est la vie.

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