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Summit décor almost done

Approximately 4,000 pounds of velour fabric - a flame-retardant velvet material - will be used by local designer Brian MacFarlane as part of the décor for the opening ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

The gold and navy blue material was obtained from Rose Brand, North America's largest theatrical fabric and fabrication company.

The company says on its website that the cost of the material can range anywhere from US$11 to US$30 per yard.

"There were a lot of restrictions because of how important the event is and the fact that 34 Heads of State will be present," said MacFarlane as he sat along the esplanade at the Port of Spain Waterfront Centre on Saturday. There he got a vantage point of the ongoing works at the Summit Village - scheduled to open today- which he is also spearheading.

"We were not allowed to use any fabrics in the ballroom that were not fire retardant, so all of the velour fabric that came from Rose Brand in New York, is fire retardant. All the carpet has been sprayed with fire retardant spray as well."

MacFarlane's team has already begun its artistic work in the Regency Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel - where the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"The décor for the opening ceremony will be completed by Tuesday morning. It's already 90 per cent finished," he said.

"I met with all the Secret Service intelligence personnel (Friday) night and they are going to be bringing in their dogs to do an entire sweep of the hotel. Then nothing else can be brought in after Wednesday night."

As work on the décor continues, practice sessions are being held to fine tune the entertainment for the night.

MacFarlane has put together a 45-minute theatrical performance which will be done by a 750-member cast, for the 600 guests expected to attend the opening event.

He said: "What I did was I formulated a story from our early peoples in Trinidad and Tobago into the whole New World. What we are now and our environment, industry, gas and oil which are all part of the theme. This is also what I was directed to do by the Ambassador (Luis Rodriguez) through the Prime Minister."

He added that it was difficult task to choose the performers for the event.

"We have a lot talented people in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean," he said.

"My first proposal was to bring a lot of people from the Caribbean but because of budget constraints that had to be scaled down. In the end we got Arrow with his popular "Hot, Hot, Hot". Ziggy Marley was invited but it happened a little late and in the end he could not make it but we still are using "One Love", his father's music. We are bringing back David Rudder from Canada and Machel Montano from Los Angeles."