Confetti fell as he arrived on the stage, at about 8.20 pm, after Warner walked, a bit somberly, through the crowd, which began assembling on the ground from as early as 5.30 pm.
By 7.30 pm, there was standing room only as the crowd packed the pavilion and a few smaller tents around the ground facing the main speaker’s tent.
They were there to listen to what Warner had to say, his first public comments to them since his resignation on Sunday as national security minister and as UNC chairman, on Monday.
But when, close to 10.30 pm, Warner said he will resign as their MP, supporters shouted, “No!”
When he said he will seek to be their candidate again in a bye-election, they offered sombre applause, before continuing to listen to his speech in complete silence.
“I will never leave you, Chaguanas West I will never disappoint you,” he said, again to muted applause.
Among the crowd stood Moruga/Tableland MP Clifton DeCoteau, the Social Integration and Diversity Minister.
“I am here in support of my friend,” DeCoteau told reporters.
Earlier, a huge television screen was set up at the far left of the main tent to give constituents a clearing view of the proceedings.
Before the 7 pm start, to the sounds of taped music, a member of Warner’s constituency staff began distributing green whistles to the crowd while sno-cone, ice cream and nuts vendors did a brisk trade.
There was also a heavy police presence as spectators were told to park on the recreation ground to ensure a free flow of traffic.
Programmes were distributed to crowd and members of the electronic and print media who gave full coverage of the meeting.
Christian, Hindu and Muslim prayers were printed on the green programmes, with bold black lettering. The programme listed tributes by five constituents, a dance by Susan Mohip and a performance by Rikki Jai. It also indicated that there would be a 20-minute video featuring Warner, who was expected to arrive at about 8.10 pm and to speak at about 8.45 pm.
Shortly after Warner’s arrival, Rikki Jai entertained the crowd with his renditions of such songs as Louis Armstrong’s “A wonderful life”, and the late Ras Shorty I’s “Who God Bless”.
Interviewed after his arrival at about 6.30 pm, De Coteau said he was there to support Warner, his friend, and also because his constituency had been twinned with Warner’s.
Asked whether he was concerned that his presence may be viewed in a negative light, De Coteau said, “As far as I am concerned, he is a member of the party. He resigned from the leadership but not the party.”
Asked what advice he would offer his friend, De Coteau said, “I would tell him what he tells us, ‘keep the faith’.”
On the mood in the Cabinet yesterday, De Coteau said, “People are bleeding. They feel sorry for him. He is a colleague.”
Also supporting Warner last night, were Winston “Gypsy” Peters and Chaguanas Mayor Orlando Nagessar.
Warner’s video presentation was a testimonial of his service to his constituents and as a Government Minister of Works and Transport, Works and Infrastructure and National Security.
Several constituents were featured in the video, giving their accounts of how Warner helped them, some to get a home or a scholarship. In one instance, Warner beamed with pride when he learned that a young female constituent who he had given a scholarship is now a medical intern.