Government has taken heed of advice from mas’ bands and will be changing the route for Carnival Monday and Tuesday parades this year.
Although details remain sketchy on the exact route, Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the parades will take place in the vicinity of the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium instead of the city centre.
This, Nicholas said, could be adapted for future Carnivals if it proves to be effective.
“As far as mas’ is concerned, it’s to be held on the outskirts of St John’s and closer to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, which was a long-held wish by many mas’ makers, to have less of a cluttered environment within the narrow streets of St John’s,” he shared.
Nicholas said that the new development was welcomed by the Head of Traffic, Rodney Ellis, who was present when the Cabinet met on Wednesday.
Nicholas also spoke to the reason behind government’s back-pedaling on hosting the annual Panorama competition.
“The chairman or president of the pan association, Mr Johnson, explained that when Covid struck, and they were not able to do their normal economic activities, they had gone into a bit of a furlough …. the financial strain that was put on these pannists, they were not able to do the necessary preparation.
“And so, notwithstanding the offering of the government to make funds available to them, even at this stage it will not be possible to get themselves up to the level of being competition ready.”
Observer broke the news last week that the competition had been axed from the line-up. But days later, Cabinet announced it was committed to ensuring that the signature steel pan contest took place.
However, yesterday’s Cabinet notes revealed that the competition will not be held after all. Instead, it will be replaced with a pan show with steel bands invited to perform on the Sunday night, prior to Monday J’ouvert at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG).
A special pan event to celebrate two musicians who are very ill, Vincent ‘Babu’ Samuel and Devon Batchelor, will also be a part of the Carnival celebrations.
Meanwhile, preparations for Carnival City at the ARG are expected to begin in short order, with the dismantling of the double decker stand expected to finally commence next week.
Cabinet notes indicated that ARG vendors have already been relocated, signalling the green light for the removal of the historic stand.
All other preparations for ARG’s Carnival City will also commence momentarily, to include the erection of a stage, plus the cleaning of the stands and grounds, and lighting and security.
Nicholas said that he is confident the work to demolish the double decker stand and prepare the ARG for next month’s festivities will be completed in time.
“Both the Ministry of Public Works and the ministry with responsibility for Carnival have indicated that there is now clearance.
“The challenge that they had previously was in getting the vendors that were plying their trade inside the Recreation Grounds to move.
“That has now been completed and we are advised that the demolition work will start next week – and it is not a demolition to rebuild, it is a demolition to remove, and once that is done, the rest of Carnival City, building the stage and [so on] is within the timeline and framework for that to be done,” he added.
Additional details on the July 23 to August 2 celebrations will be provided in the coming weeks through the Festivals Commission in a series of press conferences.