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Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

Pt. Fortin celebrates 25th anniversary

May 06, 2005
By Terry Joseph

What in its inaugural year started out as four steelbands marking the high point of Point Fortin's Borough Day, will this year field some 20 top orchestras in two separate sessions, as Pan on the Move (aka Pan in Point) celebrates its 16th edition; annually a major highlight of the southern borough's 25th anniversary celebrations.

Already, Point Fortin has hosted a number of events to mark the occasion, attracting thousands of native villagers back from adopted homelands, a count of returning residents Deputy Mayor Marlon Richardson describes as running second only to response to the national festival.

There have been youth rallies, religious services, schools programmes, military parades, a major charity dinner, the Mayor's masquerade ball, sporting competitions, family day, health fair, the energy expo, chutney, stick-fighting, an ongoing grand market and food village at Coronation Park from 10:am each day and the crowning of Leann Asabi Simon as Miss Point Fortin 2005.

Completing the fortnight of activity after Pan on the Move will be three more nights of fun, firstly a concert featuring soca bands Invazion, Surface and Red, White and Black, with special guest DawgE Slaughter that takes place tomorrow night, then there's Sunday Cool Down at Clifton Hill Beach and Monday night's vintage kaiso session at the same venue to close this year's proceedings.

Tomorrow is, however seen by most as the festival's biggest day, attracting some 30,000 visitors in its best year to date, with action beginning well before dawn and going past midnight. Opening the Borough Day activities schedule is a Jouvert beginning at 4:am then, at noon, traditional characters and contemporary masmix in a parade powered by single-pan bands La Horquetta Pan Groove, St. James Tripolians, Laventille Serenaders, Jah Roots, Self Help Marines, Arima All Stars and Rio Claro Koskeros.

For the Pan on the Move contest, which begins at 4:pm, participating conventional orchestras include Witco Desperadoes, Sagicor Exodus, Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, Petrotrin Phase 11 Pan Groove, NLCB Fonclaire, Solo Pan Knights, Harmonites, PCS Starlift, Arima Angel Harps, Pan Elders, Petrotrin Hatters, Longdenville Claytones, Tornadoes, Starland, RBTT Redemption Sound Setters and HCL Valley Harps.

The big steelbands will push off at 4:pm from Frisco Junction, a place of much history in the evolution of this country's labour relations, moving to the market, the making a turn to take them to Wickham Street, which ushers revellers to the end of the jump-up near the Hi-Lo supermarket, allowing the bands to have their instruments picked up near the Tornadoes' panyard on Bon Aventure Road.

"People are now choosing to come to Borough Day, instead of the traditional carnival," said deputy mayor Richardson, "and this is especially true of our Point Fortin citizens who are now residents in New York, Washington or wherever they may be. They come and they bring their friends. We have crowds now conservatively of about 20,000 on the streets of the borough for Pan On The Move.

"We have basically created a mini carnival. In fact, I dare say, it is more compact than the traditional carnival, because it happens within a two weeks period, and often on one night you may have five or six events and that is only those listed on the official Borough Celebration programme," he said.

Point Fortin boast of having started some of this country's major celebrations, most notably Emancipation Day, which was first marked there in 1984 as a result of collaboration between homeboy cultural researcher John Cupid and (the late) Lancelot Lane; the activity funded by the (now defunct) Trinidad and Tobago Oil company (Trintoc) Foundation.

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