Patrons complain about North Park

The North Park at the Queen’s Park Sa­van­nah got mixed re­views from pa­trons at yes­ter­day’s Na­tion­al Panora­ma se­mi-fi­nals for medi­um and large bands. The fa­cil­i­tieswere in­tro­duced this year by the Na­tion­al Car­ni­val Com­mis­sion (NCC) in an ef­fort to in­crease prof­itabil­i­ty at Car­ni­val events.

Some pa­trons com­plained about the lack of in­for­ma­tion on the new rules and poli­cies at the venue.

Tony Grif­fith, or­gan­is­er of a rhythm sec­tion, said when he and oth­er or­gan­is­ers ar­rived at the Sa­van­nah to set up the area to be oc­cu­pied by their group or “posse” they met locked gates. When they were even­tu­al­ly let in, they were giv­en con­fus­ing in­for­ma­tion about whether bring cool­ers, glass bot­tles, ta­bles, tents and oth­er par­ty sup­plies would be al­lowed as was tra­di­tion­al­ly done at the North Stand.

“While we ap­plaud the Gov­ern­ment for the lit­tle changes, we thought they could have struc­tured it bet­ter and giv­en peo­ple more in­for­ma­tion on how this whole thing re­al­ly laid out,” Grif­fith said.

He said the con­fu­sion over the of­fi­cial pol­i­cy for the North Park may have con­tributed to the low­er than av­er­age crowds in that area at the start of the com­pe­ti­tion. How­ev­er, he ad­mit­ted that the crowds usu­al­ly in­creas­es lat­er in the evening.

“We thought as we are pay­ing more mon­ey now we would have got­ten more val­ue for our mon­ey, but it did not work out that way,” he said.

Trade union­ist Joseph Re­my al­so ex­pressed con­cern about the area.

“While I un­der­stand the eco­nom­ic cir­cum­stances, I still think a lot more could be done to make here more con­ve­nient and to al­low peo­ple to en­joy the North Stand at­mos­phere. It is not like it use to be,” he said.

Some pa­trons did not seem too both­ered and in­stead chose to ex­plore the new sur­round­ings, which con­sists of three large view­ing plat­forms with­in an en­closed court­yard in the space where the North Stand was pre­vi­ous­ly erect­ed.

“Change is in­evitable. Peo­ple need to stop be­ing so dif­fi­cult and try to en­joy them­selves,” one man said.

The con­cerns about the lo­ca­tion were ac­knowl­edged by Pan Trin­ba­go pres­i­dent Bev­er­ly Ram­say-Moore who said in a brief in­ter­view with Guardian Me­diathat the mea­sure pre­vent­ing pa­trons from set­ting up ta­bles on the view­ing plat­forms was in­tro­duced to en­sure they could safe­ly ac­com­mo­date all pa­trons. She said af­ter mi­nor mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion ear­li­er in the day, the is­sue was rec­ti­fied.

In her speech be­fore the start of the com­pe­ti­tion, Ram­sey-Moore said this year’s Panora­ma ex­em­pli­fied Pan Trin­ba­go’s thrust to bring “pros­per­i­ty to pan”.

“Our mis­sion is to in­spire and em­pow­er our mem­bers to cre­ate wealth, whether it be mon­ey or so­cial wealth,” she said.

Yes­ter­day’s com­pe­ti­tion be­gan prompt­ly at its 1 pm sched­uled start, with min­i­mum de­lays while bands set up and dis­man­tled for their per­for­mance.

While there were is­sues in the North Park area, the Grand Stand at­tract­ed its loy­al fol­low­ing of steel pan en­thu­si­ast who were more in­ter­est­ed in the per­for­mances than the par­ty-like at­mos­phere in oth­er parts of the venue

The com­pe­ti­tion, which had the theme Cel­e­brat­ing Our Cul­tur­al Icons, was in ho­n­our of pan arranger Ken “Pro­fes­sor” Philmore and ca­lyp­so­ni­ans The Mighty Shad­ow (Win­ston Bai­ley) and The Orig­i­nal De Fos­to Him­self (Win­ston Scar­bor­ough) who died last year.

In all, 14 medi­um bands and 14 large bands per­formed be­fore the judges vy­ing for a place in the Panora­ma fi­nals on March 2. 

- by Derek Achong

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