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Carnival Grand Stand no more


AFTER playing host to the Merry Monarch for over 80 years, the Grand Stand at the Queen’s Park Savannah — a virtual Trinbago Carnival institution — saw its final revelry on Saturday night with the annual Champs in Concert event. At the end of the five-hour show, Calypso icon David Rudder called on the audience to come on stage for a final prance. “This is allyuh stage come and take a last jump up,” Rudder commanded. His call was heeded. The Grand and North Stands, which over the years were the heart of Carnival and saw many a King and Queen of Carnival parade before thousands of adoring fans, will be broken down and in its place, a brand new, modern festival centre will be erected.

The construction period which is expected to last two years, will mean that when the Merry Monarch resumes his week-long reign next year, the parade of the bands as well as the marquee event — Dimanche Gras — will be held at another venue. Exactly 20 years after he won three titles in one year (1986) at the savannah, David Rudder paid a fitting tribute to the Grand Stand, with a sterling rendition of “Trini to The Bone” in which he introduced Carl and Carol Jacobs — two people who helped mould his career. It was exactly 12.20 am yesterday, when Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs Minister Joan Yuille-Williams, Junior Culture Minister Edward Hart and Public Utilities Minister Pennelope Beckles joined the cast onstage.

Rudder then sang “The Hammer” which had the audience on their feet singing chorus. He took them from Laventille to Germany while the masqueraders from the junior Band of the Year “Mas Mas Ah Know Yuh Name,” paraded on stage. Halfway through the song, Rudder invited the audience to come on stage. The security at the steps to the stage resisted but to no avail as the people were allowed to “board” the stage for the finale. In less than five minutes the entire stage was crowded with foreigners and locals jumping to the beat of calypso. It was the last time masquerading feet pounded the grand old stage. This prompted fire officials on hand to start checking under the stage (north stand side) to see if it was up to the task.

The stage did not buckle under the pressure and the people including the ministers, Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold and a couple of NCC officials jumped and sang, with Rudder leading the pack, as they headed off into the “sunset” to the western end of the savannah. Before Rudder brought the show to an end Carnival champions performed before a very appreciative audience. The Junior Carnival king and queen, Junior Band of the Year, Junior Calypso monarch, under 13, 16 and 21 Panorama champions as well as the Chutney Soca monarch all performed. The audience also heard sweet pan music from LA Pan Groove (single pan), Merrytones (small), Sforzata (medium) and Phase II Pan Groove (large). Calypso monarch Luta put in an appearance while extempo champ and first runner-up Sheldon John and Blacksage were MCs for the night. The Police band provided accompaniment throughout the show which was aptly called “Carnival come back again for de final crossing” — an edition of Champs in Concert that will go down in history as one of the best.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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