Caribbean carnival celebrates 50th grand parade in Toronto

Mas bands revel in the music as they walk the parade route at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s grand parade, in Toronto on Saturday, July 30, 2016.
Associated Press/ Cole Burston / The Canadian Press

Eleven masquerade bands, more than 10,000 costumed revelers, thousands of other revelers and over a million people converged on Toronto’s Lakeshore Boulevard last Saturday for the city’s 50th grand Caribbean carnival.

“The atmosphere of today’s milestone parade was as colorful as ever,” reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “The day started with a few rain showers, and a few feathers got wet, but spirits weren’t dampened.”

It said Toronto’s 50th Caribbean carnival held its flagship event, with the 13-hour parade lasting until sundown.

Shane Ingram came all the way from Amsterdam to march in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

“It’s almost in your blood,” told CBC, describing the energy he gets from the event, now in its 50th year.

Despite having to get up early and to face chilly temperatures, Ingram said the air was buzzing with anticipation.

“The first time I saw carnival, I was on the sidelines in normal civilian clothing,” Ingram said, shaking his plumed purple headdress. “Once you put this thing on, you’re transformed.”

Ingram and his Toronto friend, Ricardo Smith, danced beside him.

“The camaraderie, the revelry, it’s excitement all day long,” Smith said.

Aja Bowser came all the way from San Antonio, Texas for her first carnival.

“You don’t get this camaraderie any and everywhere,” she told CBC. “I’m trying to get in touch with that innate heritage, that feeling that I’m part of something bigger.”

Bowser shared her secret of keeping carnival’s ubiquitous accessory — glitter — stuck to her skin.

“It’s Vaseline. You gotta rub yourself with Vaseline or baby oil and then just throw the glitter on you, like you ran into a unicorn or something,” she said.

It was CBC Toronto’s own Jennifer Allen’s first carnival this year.

The Metro Morning reporter had been watching the parade for years, but told the television station that being in costume adds the excitement of constant motion.

“When you’re walking down Lakeshore Boulevard and performing in front of the judges, it’s a great feeling,” she said.

Tanysha Castello, a carnival veteran, said she brought her mother along this year so she could get her first taste of the event.

“It’s a cultural thing. It keeps you connected with everybody,” Castello told CBC News.

Tamara Kralik’s daughter, 6, agreed. She was in a mas band, and noted the energy of masqueraders around her.

Kralik said she woke up at 5 am to dress and prepare, adding that she was not quitting early.

“The vibe that you get just from being on the road with so many people — it’s a whole different celebration,” she said of the Caribbean cultural masterpiece.

A Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival participant performs for judges in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. Commonly called Caribana, the event culminated Saturday with its annual parade, with colorful costumes, upbeat music and dancing in the streets.
Associated Press / The Canadian Press, Victor Biro

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