Carnival Monday 2006 Pt. 1
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Tribe Experience: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Webster's dictionary defines a tribe as a group of people sharing an occupation, interest, or habit. As a tribe masquerader you would have shared a whole lot more than that. We would like to sum it up simply as "an experience." Though the experience begins long before this, Iet's fast forward to the actual costume pick up. A fully stocked bar in the car park of Cascadia, just in case yuh get lil thirsty, set the pace. Once inside you could not miss the maps with instructions and directions for every phase of picking up your costume. Most impressive however, were the clear instructions of where you could find the customer service area. These two words, customer - service from time immemorial have proven absolutely elusive in our wonderful twin island republic.
The experience continues when you find a brochure with clear instructions and information from menus for each meal, timelines, deejays, maps of the park where we would stop for lunch, even the precise order of all of the trucks in the band and so much more. We knew exactly where to park and exactly where to meet the band just from the map; it's always the little things :-)
The actual mas Monday and Tuesday was on point as well. The band left on time both days and shuttles where running to take late comers to the band. Sweet! We were across the stage in no time on Monday and the wait on Tuesday was a littler longer but not too bad. Somebody needs to get a medal for the way the drinks trucks were stocked, staffed and laid out throughout the band. Each section had a main bar with everything top shelf under the sun and an express bar following right behind it, brilliant! Not once did we get a "we ey ha no more ah dat nuh." Not sure where Tribe found the folks to staff these trucks but they actually seemed as though they wanted to be there and they knew it was important to serve the band members quickly and enthusiastically. Even up until the bitter end on Tuesday evening! Well done Tribe! We think this was one of the biggest factors that made playing with Tribe, an experience. The lunch menu, breakfast menu and snacks are just a few of the many things that set the band apart for the rest. Tribe masquerader, Hayden A. told us at the end of Carnival Tuesday, "In my 10 years of playing mas, this was by far my best experience. Tribe has outdone themselves!"
The guys can definitely make use of their board shorts after carnival and the ladies costumes actually looked like some thought went into making them look different form the same ole same ole. Security was abundant with different levels of security staff. From what we could tell, and we could be wrong, there were regular security officers, security supervisors, special security (who happened to be police officers), and special branch officers guarding the dignitaries in the band. While this was a very good thing for the most part, unfortunately we will have to mention some security aspects in the ugly segment.
Not too much to talk about here, but we do have a few items. The login online to pay for your costume feature never came online. As a matter of fact just days prior, we were informed that no credit card payment would be accepted. Who wants to walk around TnT or anywhere for that matter with that kind of cash on them! This is not a fete in here this is madness!
Maybe Cascadia Hotel was not the best location for costume pick up. The roads are just way to narrow for that kind of traffic congestion. Thank goodness for the bar in the parking lot once you did make it to the hotel!
This point is really not a bad, but more of a mix up. On Tuesday, seeing that the main stage crossing was delayed, masqueraders were greeted with lunch around the savannah. Although a good idea, it added to some confusion for the masqueraders already waiting at the park for lunch. The St. Clair rest stop is a cool and refreshing location, but many masqueraders found the lunch stopover/break a little too long and despite the tantalizing beats of Tassa drums, masqueraders slowly became restless. On the flip side, some masqueraders truly enjoyed the break, before getting back on the road.
The security issue is where the review gets a little sticky. Truth be told, we don't think there was too much more Tribe could do in this area. However, we feel it is important enough to mention here. First, let us make it clear that for both days Tribe security was in full force and the band was a very safe band to be in. The ratio of security to masqueraders was extremely impressive.
Many people we have spoken to are of the opinion that police officers in TnT do not feel the need to be polite to people. That's right we said it! They feel they must maintain a gruff and what we call "bad john" persona at all times, no matter who they are dealing with. I think that is the wrong approach for carnival time. You cannot approach a tourist, a visiting Trinidadian or a law abiding resident, the same way you deal with a menace to society. An attempt should be made to hire a group of officers who are trained in community policing that know when to escalate a situation and when a simple dialog may be the solution.
Because of the mentality of some people in law enforcement, a couple of incidents could have been avoided especially one on Monday afternoon in which a visitor was beaten. Is it too hard for law enforcement to stop and listen to someone, before they start their "bad john" antics? The very people who are there to protect and serve us are the ones that actually caused some of the security incidents to escalate unnecessarily, so sad. Is there a specially trained group of officers who are more sensitive to their environment? If not, then they should be.
We will DEFINITELY be back in Tribe next year. The attention to detail and level of organization made it not just a great band to be a part of; it made playing with Tribe an experience!