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Bands gearing up for Saturday's Boston Caribbean Carnival

With Caribbean Carnival around the corner, the Banner takes a peek inside one Boston's busiest mas camps

Yawu Miller | 8/21/2014, 5:03 p.m.
Ronald Barney Blaize poses next to the T&T Social Club's partially-assembled queen costume titled Reach for the Stars. Banner photo

With just hours to go until costumes are judged at the Boston Caribbean Carnival King and Queen competition, T&T Social Club costume designer Ronald Barney Blaize is calmly embellishing his band’s queen costume, a glue gun in one hand, a Corona within reach of the other.

“We’re all really enthusiastic about carnival,” he says, speaking for the more than 260 band members expected to participate in T&T’s entry into this year’s Boston Caribbean Carnival. “We’re ready for Saturday to come so we can showcase the artistry and splendor of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The Boston Caribbean Carnival parade begins Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (as always, allow for Caribbean Standard Time). T&T’s entry this year, Lights on Broadway, will include five sections: Lion King, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Little Mermaid and Dream Girls — each with its own color scheme and costume designs.

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T&T Social Club band leader Luidgi Felix and designer Regine Paul show a costume from the Phantom of the Opera section of the band's Lights on Broadway presentation. There will be more than 260 people playing mas with T&T this year.

While the 260 costumed dancers are ready to go, Blaize is putting extra care into the queen’s costume, which will be disassembled and transported to the Reggie Lewis Athletic Facility for the king and queen competition tonight.

Next to Blaize’s work table is the wheeled steel frame for the costume, designed to bear the weight of the more than 100 pounds of wire, fabric and sequins that adorn it. When asked to assemble to costume for a photo, he mounts the center piece — an 18’ high wire tableau with a black velvet female form reaching for silver stars.

The centerpiece towers over a power line bringing electricity to T&T Social Club band leader Errol Phillips’ Jamaica Plain triple decker. The paved-over back yard of the home serves as the band’s mas camp, a work area that for most of the summer is where the band’s designers assemble costumes and hang out.

Next Blaize adds on the sides of the costume, black velvet trumpeters which extend 8’ out to either side of the costume. Then two more male figures, transforming the costume into a wall of red, black and gold color.

“The name of this portrayal is ‘reaching for the stars,’” Blaize explains. “When you’re on Broadway, you’re aiming high.”

After the Boston carnival, the band will head to Worcester Sunday for that city’s carnival. The’ll appear in New York’s carnival on Labor Day weekend, then head to Cambridge the following weekend for that city’s carnival.

Blaize says he expects T&T to win in Boston this year, as it has in 13 of the 27 years it has been in existence.

“We’re people who love Carnival, and we give it our best,” he says.

For more information on Carnival and related events, check out the website Boston Carnival Village.