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J’Ouvert, mas and parang for San Fernando city celebrations


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San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello. Photo by Lincoln Holder

SAN Fernando is ready to kick-start the anticipated “mother-of-all-Carnival” celebrations because it commemorates its thirty fourth anniversary of achieving city status in November.

San Fernando was elevated from borough to city status on November 18, 1988 under then mayor Dr Romesh Mootoo.

All the weather of Carnival, including pan, mas, calypso, chutney soca – spiced up with some parang, within the spirit of Christmas – can be neatly packaged as a farewell to San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello, who’s serving his third and last term in office.

“You might be sensing there may be an energy able to burst (for) Carnival 2023, so we’re going to let the town celebration begin that right here in Sando,” Regrello told Newsday.

An event with the theme, Let the Celebrations Begin, will open the festivities on November 5 with a concert by “King David Rudder” on the Southern Academy of the Performing Arts (SAPA), Todd Street.

On City Day, November 18, a civic reception and awards ceremony to recognise and honour residents who’ve contributed to the event of the town can be held on the St Paul’s Anglican Church, Harris Promenade.

Deron Attz. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Chairman of the Arts and Culture Committee Naigum Joseph said City Week has transitioned right into a month-long event comprising educational, sporting and cultural events.

A 10K run from Skinner Park to San Fernando Hill, dubbed Conquer the Hills, takes place on November 13, starting at 6 am. The celebrations close off on November 27 with a automotive show at Cross Crossing, featuring sound-off, vintage cars and monster trucks on display.

Pan will take centre stage on November 12, from 9 am-12 pm from Seon’s Bar, Royal Road, all the way down to Coffee Street. Top bands from Pan Trinbago South/Central region, including NLCB Fonclaire, Pan Elders, San City and Skiffle will do a “slow pan roll” to permit revellers to chip behind them.

Regrello said there can be police protection so pan lovers can feel protected to come back out and support the bands.

Joseph recalled the thrill of pan lovers when two bands took part in a pan-on-the-move for Republic Day.

“Obviously they enjoyed the entire pan vibes, so for City Week we’re doubling the efforts to present the residents what they need.”

David Rudder can be in concert on the Southern Academy of the Performing Arts (SAPA) on November 5. Photo Sureash Cholai

Joseph said the response to the prospect of J’Ouvert on November 19, especially within the absence of any sort of street festival for the past two years, has been overwhelming. He said days after the J’Ouvert celebration was announced, some 12 big bands had already registered.

Celebrations will begin at 4 am, at OWTU Paramount constructing, onto Royal Road, down Coffee Street, onto Cipero Street, resulting in Rienzi Kirton Highway, Todd Street, and them onto Skinner Park second-class ground.

“We intend to complete at 9 am, engage in an after-party at Skinner Park and be out of there by 10 am, when all music must be shut off. We try to not interrupt the business flow,” Joseph said.

Reigning Calypso Monarch Terri Lyons will hold court at Naparima Bowl on November 20, for her first-ever concert.

Lyons can even be an element of a pan, parang, soca and chutney lime slated for November 27 on the Creative Arts Centre, being held in collaboration with the Torrance Mohammed Culture and Arts Foundation.

Deron Attz, representing the inspiration, said this charity event and proceeds can be used to supply Christmas hampers to the less fortunate.

The event will begin with breakfast between 5 am-10 am, with an array of continental, creole, East Indian and Christmas dishes. The worth is $100 and tickets can be found on the Creative Arts Centre.

Skiffle Steel Orchestra. Photo Roger Jacob

Later within the evening, a parang segment can be dedicated to the late Kenrick “Kenny J” Joseph, this being the primary Christmas without him. A special presentation can even be made to his family.

A giant jam within the centre’s automotive park with Terri Lyons and NLCB Fonclaire will top off the evening, Attz said.

Tickets for the evening event, which also offers some wild meat dishes, cost $120, and Attz appealed to the general public to support it, as it might ensure a family gets a hamper for Christmas.

“As much as we enjoy celebrating the town, it is crucial to do the philanthropic work to help individuals less fortunate locally.”

Regrello, a former MP for San Fernando West, told Newsday he has enjoyed his stint as mayor and is looking forward to his retirement. Having served three consecutive terms, he’s now statute-barred from holding the position after the following local government elections, constitutionally due this 12 months.

Pan Elders . Photo by Angelo Marcelle

He said he intended to exit with a bang and in that respect, the Mayor’s Ball on November 26, can be a “ring-down party right here at City Auditorium.”

“As a cultural mayor,” he added, “I feel I actually have done my part by way of recognising the assorted art forms and contribution made by artistes, colleagues, friends, who’ve contributed to the cultural landscape.

“I don’t think some other city or boroughs have recognised the contribution of the performers or recognised them by naming streets of their honour.”

During his tenure, Regrello has named and re-named several streets after cultural activists James Lee Wah, Ras Shorty I, Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed, Ken “Professor” Philmore, Black Stalin, Steve Achaiba and Torrance Mohammed.


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