In the face of many masqueraders I know losing jobs in the last half or 2008, those masqueraders intimated to me that the only reason they managed to come to Trinidad for Carnival was the fact that they had begun preparations early. Most had bought their airline ticket soon after Carnival 2008, as well as deposits had already been made on hotel and costume. So, for those who still managed to make the trip for Carnival 2009 the fact that they had put plans in place almost a year before allowed them that luxury. Alternately there were those who could not make it after all, the ones who worried not only about finances but also about job security if they took time off to “vacation” when their company was cutting back on employees. There were MANY costumes being sold online at Carnival Junction and Fineahban as people came to the realization that it would be impossible to make the trip for Carnival 2009.
Sources say that even the popular bands were worried this year as costume collection went very slow during the first week of distribution. Many masqueraders could not afford the usual two weeks Carnival vacation and spent only a few days, arriving in Trinidad at the very last minute possible. In addition several deposits were forfeited and costumes were simply left uncollected, however the long waiting lists of persons looking for costumes since August absorbed the surplus of uncollected costumes. I expect to see many costumes for Trinidad Carnival 2009 turning up in global Carnivals as smaller bands did not fare so well in getting rid of their stock of costumes. There were costumes being given away, I was told, and one band even slashed prices from $3300.00TT to under $2000.00TT, not a bad deal for an all inclusive package!
The price increase on costumes for 2009 was small compared to other years, personally my costume cost the same as it did in 2008 so there was no increase on my part. But I am not expecting that this will remain the same for 2010 nor am I expecting a price cut either! And when it came to fetes I only ended up going to ONE for 2009, that is right ONE fete! This was not purely by design, I had already made a decision to boycott all the exorbitant fetes, but by chance I had a travel opportunity fall into my lap a few weeks before Carnival and I chose to spend my money on that instead of fetes. It was that simple for me and for 2010 my list of “must go to fetes” is really tantamount to NONE. After surviving with going to only one fete for 2009 I can surely miss out on a few next year and not feel like I was deprived. Carnival Monday and Tuesday was the BEST two days of feting for me out of the entire Carnival season.
This brings us to the fears of bandleaders for Carnival 2010, a year that has a global cloud of the financial crisis perpetually looming overhead. With budgets tightening, jobs being lost and everyone being advised to save plenty and spend little will masqueraders still fork out the money to be a part of Carnival at any cost?
My questions to you, the masqueraders whose support make or break these bands, is will you be participating in Carnival 2010? Have you made plans to purchase your airline ticket and secure hotel accommodation (if applicable) and when do you intend on doing so? Will you pay more for your costume in 2010 and will costume prices affect your decision to play mas or play mas in a particular band? What cost cutting measures will you put in place for Carnival 2010 ( if any)? Have you been affected by the worldwide recession; have you lost your job or are worried about losing your job and how will this affect your participation in Carnival 2010?
Normally I would advise those of you planning on Carnival 2010 to start planning and budgeting from the minute Carnival 2009 is over, but with some people staring unemployment in the face or the prospect of losing their homes being very real… I am wondering now if these realities will catch up and over ride the love of Carnival for many!