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Collecting Your Carnival Costume

You’ve registered for your carnival costume, are all packed, and geared up to go on a memorable Caribbean voyage. Your fete tickets are likely sorted out, and your accommodations are ready for you. Now what?

One of the most important aspects of any carnival trip is costume collection. If you’ve registered to jump with a band, you’re going to have to pick your costume up at some point. Mas bands typically launch a distribution schedule that allows masqueraders to see the dates they are allowed to collect their costumes (see example below). For crowd control and operations management purposes, bands usually designate specific days for certain sections. If you are not available to pick up your costume on the designated day for your section, you can usually collect it any day thereafter.

What if I’m not able to collect my own costume?

No worries! If you know someone who is in the same band or lives in the area, you can ask them to collect the costume on your behalf. Some mas bands use platforms like PlayMas or MasOS, which have built-in systems for you to grant permission for someone else to collect your costume. If the band has independent registration, they typically require that you submit a letter granting permission for a specific individual to collect your costume. The letter must be accompanied by a copy of your identification and your receipt of full payment.

Whether you collect your costume yourself or enlist the help of another person, there are certain protocols you MUST follow (in my opinion) to maintain your sanity. Let me break down my non-negotiables for collecting your carnival costume:

2023 Lost Tribe Distribution Schedule
2023 Distribution Schedule for The Lost Tribe

Dress Accordingly

Whenever I know that I’m going to be trying on clothes, I wear something that will help the process go a little quicker. In the case of costume pick-up, I try to wear something fitted that will allow me to try the pieces of my costume on without having to move from the pick-up counter. Believe it or not, some band houses aren’t “try-on” friendly, but they’re getting better.

If you’re not comfortable with the idea above, bring a similar piece of bodywear with you (i.e., bra, swimsuit, bikini bottom, etc.) to compare it to just in case there are no restrooms or fitting rooms on the premises.

Arrive Early

If the distribution schedule works in your favor, make every effort to arrive at the band house as early as possible. I like to arrive when they first open because the lines are short or non-existent, and the moods of the staff are typically more pleasant. There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at a band house that’s already swarming with people. Emotions can run high if there are issues, and I like to arrive when I think everyone will be at their best.

Try On Your Bodywear

If you have been suspect about your costume fitting from the start, you MUST try that thing on before you exit the mas camp! If things aren’t fitting the way you’d like, ask the staff member what can be done to assist you. In some cases, there may be a seamstress on-site to make minor adjustments as needed. They may also have spare items in the back that you can swap out.

2023 Lost Tribe Carnival Costume Collection

Check for Your Wristbands

While they may not seem like a big deal just by looking, wristbands are a crucial part of your carnival costume package. They identify you as an official member of the band. You need to ensure that your goodie bag includes these items; otherwise, it will be nearly impossible for you to get drinks, food, and special access to band-only areas. These are not items that band leaders give out nonchalantly. Before you leave the house on carnival day, make sure those wristbands are on and secure.

Take Your Time at the Counter

You may feel the need to rush through the process when it’s finally your turn, but please don’t. Rushing is a sure way to forget something. The band representative should be providing you with information for carnival day, such as the start times, meeting points, and any other helpful tidbits. If they don’t, then by all means, take the lead and ask any and all questions you have.

Account for All Your Pieces

The staff member(s) should be showing you everything in your package so that you know what’s what. Oftentimes, when registering for a costume, there is a page that lists all the items included with your costume. Have a screenshot of that page handy, along with the photo, so that you can compare it with what you’re receiving at the time of pick-up. If you think something is missing, speak up!

Never have I ever needed a cart to carry out my costume LOL! Make sure you're prepared!

Prepare for the Worst

Let’s be real, things don’t always go as planned. I walk into every mas camp being a realist. Meaning, I go into the situation with an understanding that there is a possibility that I may be spending more time there than I’d like to. So, make sure your phones are charged, have some reading material on hand, and definitely bring those headphones along just in case you need to entertain yourself. Bring refreshments to keep your tummy company. While it should be expected, some band houses do not provide refreshments while you wait. Tragic, I know.

Stay Connected

Check your emails regularly and turn on social media notifications for your band and section leaders if you have access to them. Band leaders typically use Instagram stories to update masqueraders on important announcements and to simply give a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in the moment. Feel free to message them and ask when the low-traffic times are expected to be each day.

If you’re in a group chat, drop a message to see if anyone is currently on the premises or en route to get a sense of the scene and vibe. Sometimes those chat communications can save you an unnecessary trip to the band house.

Get Contact Information

Before you leave the counter, make sure to get the name(s) of the person helping you, and make a mental note of their appearance. This will help build a connection in the event that you need to get back in touch with them or, worst-case scenario, file a complaint.

If your costume is not ready for some reason, do try to get and give detailed information. Make sure they have your contact number and know the best way to reach you. Be sure to let them know if you’re scheduled to be at an event anytime in the near future. Since things aren’t ready, they should be trying to work around your schedule.

For more in-depth coverage of this topic, be sure to watch the accompanying video on my YouTube channel. You’re also encouraged to check out this “Frequently Asked Carnival Questions” article. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Share it with your friends and carnival group chats!

Happy carnivaling!