Veteran masqueraders Ted Eustace and Roxanne Omalo were crowned this year’s Carnival King and Queen, early Monday morning.
Eustace and Omalo improved on their average performances in last Thursday’s preliminary round to earn their fourth and second titles at the end of the competition at the Dimanche Gras show at the Queen’s Park Savannah, on Sunday night.
Eustace’s costume, “Lords Of De Savannah”, easily one of the largest in the competition, was a feat of engineering and design as its gigantic Pierrot Grenade and dual Midnight Robbers moved robotically as he crossed the stage.
In a brief interview after the results were announced, Eustace refused to reveal the secret behind his titling-winning portrayal designed by his brother Marcus and built by Kevin Robertson.
“Yes, we used a way to move the costume rather than the traditional way. We try to bring the new technology into the mas,” Eustace said, as he neither confirmed nor denied the use of hydraulics.
Eustace, whose father Tedder has three crowns, admitted he was supported this year by his other old brother Curtis, who holds the record for the most Carnival King wins with eight, but chose to stay out of the competition, this year.
Eustace, an aircraft engineer and a member of the band Paparazzi Carnival, revealed that his costume, which was sponsored by Coca Cola, cost $120,000 and took three months to build.
“I would like to see the money raised,” Eustace said, in a veiled reference to the $185,000 top prize.
Omalo, who placed second in last year’s competition, impressed the judges this year with her presentation “Mother Of Dragons-Keeper Of Light”, which was designed by Varma Lakhan, of Antourage Productions.
“We came back this year to capture back our victory from 2018. We executed tonight well and we got the crown,” she said.
The Mayaro native was quick to point out that she performed in the competition despite suffering a broken hand before the preliminary round.
“I got the okay from the doctor, so I went out there and shook that costume and brought it to life,” she said.
Omalo, who has been a regular fixture in the tail-end of the competition over the past decade, does not plan to defend her crown.
“ I am retiring with a bang. I am leaving it for somebody else to try, so they don’t have to study to beat Roxanne next year,” Omalo said.
She claimed that she now plans to enjoy Carnival from the sidelines and produce a Children’s Carnival band in her hometown.
Questioned about a pyrotechnic accident involving her bandmate Ravi Lakhan, which saw the head of his enormous serpent-themed costume burst into flames during the Carnival King competition, Omalo said he escaped without injuries.
Omalo, who suffered a similar accident last year while parading through Port-of-Spain on Carnival Tuesday, explained that such incidents were to be expected as the costumes are made of very flammable materials.
“It is hurtful that eight months have gone down the drain but in this industry, you have to expect anything because we playing with all kinds of different pyrotechnics,” she said.
Besides the issue with Lakhan’s costume, the final of the competition was relatively incident-free compared to last Thursday’s preliminary round, which was marred by constant showers that hampered the performance of the masqueraders.
The Carnival King and Queen presented by acclaimed designer Peter Minshall as part of his 2020 presentation “Mas Pieta”, were clear crowd favourites as they both drew standing ovations from the audience.
However, Minhsall’s masqueraders Earl Thompson and Sevel Nicholls with their theatric presentations “The Power Of Love” and “The Love Of Power”, were unable to impress the judges and improve on their second places from the preliminary round. Thompson placed eighth, while Nicholls managed to maintain her second spot.
This year’s Dimanche Gras show, in its second year in its new format, only managed to attract a modest audience in the Grand Stand at Carnival City.
Those who attended were not left disappointed by the nautical-themed showcase, which was produced by Davlin Thomas and highlighted traditional King Sailor Mas.
Patrons yearning for the Calypso Monarch competition, which was moved to Carnival Thursday, were treated to a cameo performance from this year’s winner Terri Lyons, as well as recently crowned Soca Monarch Neil “Iwer” George.
The only Carnival competition winners not to feature were Chutney Soca Monarch Imran “GI” Beharry and Desperados Steel Orchestra, which secured its 12th Panorama Large Bands win, almost 24 hours before.
Chutney soca was still well represented with performances from previous monarchs Neval Chatelal, KI, and Nishard M.
The show also featured performances from several veteran calypsonians and most of this year’s most popular soca artistes including Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Patrice Roberts, Benjai, Skinny Banton, Lyrikal, Nailah Blackman, Shal Marshall, Blaxx and Benjai.