Caribbean carnival gets colourful with parade
Mayoral candidates celebrate in the streets
Weeks of Toronto's Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival's culminated in the annual parade Saturday, complete with colourful costumes, music and dancing.
The event, commonly called Caribana, is in its 47th year. It bills itself an "explosion of Caribbean cuisine, music, revelry as well as visual and performing arts."
The parade is the marquee event of the three-week festival and winds along a 3.5-kilometre stretch of Toronto's Lakeshore Boulevard.
A spokesman says the festival has improved safety after the death of a Mississauga, Ont., teenager who was run over by a float at last year’s parade.
Stephen Weir says the trucks are now equipped with protective skirts.
He says the parade celebrates the end of slavery in the Caribbean, and the simple joy of freely walking down the street.
“It’s six to eight hours of people jumping up and waving flags and listening to soca music and steel bands,” he said. “It’s one of those things you can see it as a thing about emancipation or it can be a thing about just having a good time in the summer in Toronto. Both are equally right.”
Parade participants picked up their intricate outfits earlier this week, applying finishing touches and getting in the festival spirit. Nevrene Lindo said he was preparing by dancing in her room to infectious soca beats. Lindo, whose background is Jamaican, said first-time parade attendees should drink lots of water and rest up ahead of time.
“Everyone’s out there just having fun and letting the music just flow through their veins,” she said. “It may seem overwhelming, but I would say they would enjoy it and they would probably want to come back. It’s a lot of fun. Everyone is so nice. There’s different cultures that will come out and…when you’re going for the first time you’ll learn new dances.”
As many as 1 million people were expected to attend, including nearly 16,000 performers.
People from all over flock to Toronto to see and even take part in the huge event.
Louis Saldenah leads one of the most successful bands at the festival.
"I have a lot of people from the states, people from the Caribbean, people from England, Australia even a girl from Saudi Arabia registered with us," he said.
Each of the major candidates vying to be mayor took part in the festivities today.
Olivia Chow, Karen Stintz, David Socknaki and John Tory have tweeted some of the most memorable moments of their day.
With files from The Canadian Press