A Tradition on Life Support

Assou Square: definitely not the holiday tradition it once was. After all, who’s afraid of Toes when vampires, werewolves and zombies are daily fodder for kids?

Assou Square: definitely not the holiday tradition it once was. After all, who’s afraid of Toes when vampires, werewolves and zombies are daily fodder for kids?

The late American pathologist, Dr Jack Kevorkian, was best known for physician-assisted suicides. Dr Death, as he was often referred to, believed in terminally ill patients’ right to die; putting the incurable out of misery and sometimes debilitating pain. He once famously stated, “dying is not a crime.”

Assou Square, I think he was talking about you.

Like some of Kevorkian’s rapidly deteriorating charges, Square is now a shell of itself; brittle and fragile with no hope in sight and in desperate need of a mercy killing. No offense.

By all accounts, Square was once a robust young thing, brimming with promise and a vibrant future ahead. My aunts often regaled me with stories about the good old days when you could purchase a bounty’s worth of ‘koshonie’ for a mere 25 cents. In fact when they were upgraded to a whopping 50 cents they made off with a king’s ransom!

They were terrified of ‘Toes’ and the other masqueraders but like mini masochists they would return year after year. Our own Star Editor shared his beloved square tradition of going to an early matinee at the nearby Gaiety before heading off to the festivities. Once there, he and his friends would clamour for the once seasonal treats of apples and grapes, along with home-made ice-cream preserved by salt. Yes apparently, Toni is from the Stone Age. He also remembered the popular ‘roll and tumble’ which initiated many of our menfolk into gambling long before lotto machines and casinos became de rigueur. Then again those were also the days when kids were actually kids and not the jaded pseudo-adults they are today. But I digress.

I too have a few memories of Square. By this time, chinks were already showing in the armor. It had become a haze of smoke from the now ubiquitous chicken and rum, music so loud the bass reverberated in your chest, and some suspect, rusty rides courtesy of Rambally’s. Good times.

Later on when the rains came tumbling down, assou labou was born, along with young women inappropriately attired in boots and hooded fur lined bubble jackets, presumably bracing for that still approaching Saint Lucian nor’easter.

Throughout the years, Square has moved from its namesake Columbus Square to Cul-de-Sac, Vigie, a brief stint at the Beausejour Promenade, and even
Pigeon Island. This year it was back at Vigie, like a once victorious, now aging prize-fighter on the downside of his career, refusing to hang up his gloves because he still has one more bout left in him. Before reality hits him like a first round knockout punch.

It’s sad really to see a once flourishing national pastime relegated to a few makeshift plywood huts with a sheet of galvanize thrown on like an afterthought, a few lackluster patrons refusing to let this relic be put out to pasture, and the once petrifying ‘Papa Jab’ barely drawing a cursory glance.

Of course as usual this year’s event has been said to have elicited many positive responses and was a resounding success. Surely the Creative Industries can do better than that. But these are the same people who brought us the other galvanized icon that wore out its welcome several queen shows ago.

Maybe the two of them can be laid to rest together where they can trade tales of their glory days, back when they actually mattered.

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4 Responses to A Tradition on Life Support

  1. Frank says:

    it is true that it is not what it used to be, but we should not discredit this once vibrant fare that the entire country would find a way to attend even if it was just for a moment. if a year had ended without a glance on square, it would have been a disappointment for that person or that family because it was really something to wait for. today we have all the goodies at the supermarkets for the taking (if we have the money)and a block-o or a day even in every district every month, like Marchand Day and Babonneau Day and smart phones, lap tops, i pad etc. the world is now at our finger tips. so it’s not the same and i would agree with the writer, they should put it to rest with dignity. i…

  2. Pavan Gavaskar says:

    On my return trips home, I noticed the glaring deterioration of Square’s quality. It was just a matter time before it arrived at it’s present stage. I thought a sizable park would have been constructed outside city limits that mimicked the old Gardens. It would serve as a place for festivals, outdoor concerts, Square etc. In planning the location, security, safety and sustainability (profitability) features would have been included. There needs to be some intervention that ensures esthetics and a pleasurable day for kids. Psst! Are we growing the next generation of “Massave” trees yet? Heck! the present one is not going to live forever.”

  3. Pavan Gavaskar says:

    What a hearty laugh when I saw the new Toes! He is now customer-centered and willing to reach out. I remember years ago when I was kid, his attitude was so different. The fear of being cornered by him and his crew was the overriding factor for kids each day of square. I for one stayed at least 2 blocks away while reveling in the echoes… and I was still frightened. The new Toes “with lemon oil” says it all. Some nights, when you are trying to decompress from work, photos like this one can really change your mood for the better. Thanks for the photo.

  4. lionoflucia says:

    For real.square was more than boring this year.Sqare without the rides for kids makes no sense.

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