Friday, August 29, 2014

18 year Toronto Carnival (Caribana) photo journalist's account of the parade

 The following was sent to me from a blog reader & community photo journalist.

  Len C. photographs

The four photos showing the fence broken over, and hundreds continue to
cross into the mas bands. I saw revellers just calling it quits and left their
mas band and not continue down Lakeshore. A number of mas bands making thru to the
end would not have its full compliment of paid members and with stormers like a city street.
As a media journalist covering Toronto Carnival (Caribana) for the past 18 years and contributor to a number of media  our Grand Carnival parade from the staging area and crossing the VIP and judging area goes fairly well  and when it proceeds along Lakeshore over the years thousands climb over the fence or breaking the fence down with crowbars, bolt cutters and storming the mas bands to the point wheres stormers outnumber masqueraders jamming them up to the point where the mas bands have difficulty moving and proper spectators the enjoyment of seeing a Carnival parade at its best.

Revellers pay up to $300 for their reveller costume and when stormers overrun their space and
many are intoxicated bringing their own alcohol creates a dangerous situation for the mas bands.
Over the years, many that play mas have dropped out for safety concerns and feel whats the point of being in costume and get over runned by stormers.  Also for the many who volunteer their time to make mas and take their holiday time to do what they like best is to see a wonderful Grand Carnival parade without Hinderance and they wonder why do this anymore.  The first few bands usually manage to make it thru and by mid afternoon the following mas bands have to contend with stormers and it breaks the flow of the parade.  All mas bands have the right to travel the 3.5 kilometer route without intrusion as each and every performer pays for that right.

Once the last mas band to go down Lakeshore by all means let the crowd enjoy a street parade
following the last band. As a media journalist, just watching those breaking the fence and storming the parade is an indication more must be done to stop this.  I saw this at 3 locations and other photographers have encountered the same along the route. Who is to blame? Should a number of injuries or even a stampede take place where the fence is broken down and perhaps some could be trampled.

I spoke to several American tourists with tween  age children and they watched the fence breaking and could not believe what they were seeing and video what they saw and decided to leave fearing safety for their children and said with so many street people mixed in with the mas bands and they were in the $5 no seating area in CNE grounds along the fence on Lakeshore. Seeing what they
saw said they will no longer attend Carnival in future and enjoy other Toronto sights.

The photos of the fence busters says it all. Security and police would be overwhelmed by the shear
numbers storming the parade and especially when the fence is broken at various locations. The fence busters were in the $5 no seating and one can see groups shaking at the fence to find the weakest link in the fence and all it takes is a few with crowbars to hack away.

We know the mas bands continue along with many long time revellers to work with all concerned
to come up with a solution that true carnival spectators can enjoy a full parade with all mas
bands and mas bands and revellers be able to show mas as a mas band and not a jumble of revellers and stormers.

Also many have told me they enjoy the King & Queen Show and will not attend the parade to see the
costumes the way its suppose to be.

There will always be stormers, but the goal is to keep it as low as possible

Readers, continue to send in your photos, videos and/or comments about your experience. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Toronto African Film and Music Festival



Statement issued a few minutes ago by festival spokesman Paris Rogers
As an organization, we make a special appeal to our supporters and those within the GTA community to help us see this Vision become a reality. As of yesterday, the City

Council has been trying to take measures to impede our festival by refusing to endorse this event as they assume the event will be similar to previous allegedly offending event that took place on the same grounds (1677 Wilson Ave, Toronto Plaza Hotel grounds) over a month ago. The Toronto African Film & Music Festival has no affiliations or connections with any other events in the City and therefore is being discriminated against solely because of it’s assumed demographic.

TAFMF is a multicultural festival that encourages and fosters diversity of all cultures and ethnicities. Further, City Council is using the obscure excuse of improper zoning to punish our event partner, the Toronto Plaza Hotel, and effectively legislate them out of the entertainment event business, regardless of the nature of any future event, indefinitely. This is wrong. This is unfair. This is anti-business and contrary to the City’s goal to become a larger hub for the music industry. Lastly, it is unbecoming of a city that prides itself as a ‘summer festival city’.

Previously issued Press Release:

Toronto, Ontario – August 26th, 2014 – Returning for its fourth year, the Toronto African Film and Music Festival (TAFMF) comes alive showcasing films, musical artists, food and fashion from over 50 countries from August 27th to 31st.
This year’s festival will screen 3 world premier films & feature 15 musical acts, 3 fashion shows, and 30 marketplace vendors celebrating the rich & diverse cultural mosaic that is Africa. This Year’s festival starts on August 27 with the opening of our Film Festival at the Royal Cinema, 608 College St, just west of Bathurst in Toronto Tickets are $15 in advance $20 at the door. There will be a combination of World Premiers and North America Premiers to enjoy.
From Aug 29th to Aug 31st, we are pleased to announce our three day music festival, allowing families to experience the very best in local & international African talents as well as emerging artists. This year promises to be our biggest yet, with entertainment for the whole family. Prices are $15 Adult, $12 Student/Senior, and $5 for children 12 and under.
We are excited to announce a new addition to our music festival, TAFMF will be hosting a Family Day on Friday, August 29th, sponsored by CVR Entertainment Empire, with bouncy castles, music and a carnival atmosphere for the whole family from 12 noon until 9 pm!'

For Interviews contact Paris Roger, Executive Director att 647-852-4072 Call Paris Roger, Executive Director at 647-852-4072 494 Mortimer Ave, Suite 102, East York, M4J 2G7

Monday, August 25, 2014

Spectators enjoy the mas

After all the work that goes into designing, creating, assembling and then showcasing big mas (Queens, Kings, Female and Male Individuals), THIS is what happens to them on the road. Carnival spectators properly on the other side of the fence can't see the mas in it's full glory, sparkling and dancing in the sun. No, they see this massive crush of people who've pushed, shoved and fought their way into our parade. 
The first picture was taken by a paying spectator at the King & Queen show, the only chance it seems one can really see big mas unencumbered. Because as it's been, your view of it on the Lakeshore looks like the second picture.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mas men

Time for another post about something that went right at our parade!
Have others noticed this year the amount of marvelous male masqueraders? 
Now I don't have stats, but I think there was an increase!
 With all the images out there of boys storming & disrespecting our mas, I've got to applaud and show appreciation to the men who play mas - and play it very well!

Send me your pictures of marvelous male masqueraders so I can include them.


To all you men, why do you play mas? Especially since we all know you could just storm, so why buy a costume? Tell us please... we don't hear enough from you.

 To all the men who played mas this year: Thank you for doing your part to keep the culture alive! 

Like Save Toronto Carnival on Facebook.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Speaking on CHRY 105.5 FM tomorrow

Listen to it here:
Tune in and call in to the My Data Bag show on CHRY 105.5 FM tomorrow Tuesday, August 11 at 2:00 when Karli, a mother of a young Toronto masquerader and I will be speaking with host William Doyle-Marshall.

Due to the quick action of Trinidad Carnivals who arranged for this, Karli will get to publicly share her experiences with the parade, this one in particular. I've taken the collective parade frustrations and suggestions from all of you readers who have commented, and will be expressing them as well.
We will be speaking between 2:30 – 2:45
Very importantly though is here's also your chance to have your say about the parade, so be sure to call in!

Like us on Facebook:
Save Toronto Carnival

Call in at ---&  416-736-5656
Listen live --& 

This is how we does play mas

 Here are the photos that I took.
Check out your gorgeous selves! 

I took another approach to playing mas this year, I had a different outlook, and so I did enjoy much of the parade. My goal (besides having a fierce costume) was to experience great band vibes. I also hoped for my usual Caribana wish, no rain. < We know how that turned out!

Really liked speaking with you amazing Amazonia gyrl, and everyone note, this ^ was at the beginning of the route!

Those boots though!  

Speaking of boss boots, several Arawak Princesses got these beauties being sold at the mas camp. 

Besides these fringed ones, which were of course, perfect for the costume, those red, rhinestoned boots were stand outs.

As I was happy to detail here, this was the best costume pick up ever! Melinda is a truly talented designer, a class act section leader and lovely lady. From the first email with her, which she responded to immediately, to any further contact regarding (online) registration, all communion was a pleasure.  

As you regular readers know, I've had my share of headpiece woes, & Melinda can confirm I did a double take when I saw this one bc it's flat & therefore looked smaller. I'm used to the huge helmet style headpieces (or headband). BUT THEY DON'T ALL NEED TO BE DESIGNED LIKE THAT!!!!! A lot of plastic & thing for nothing much of the time. This was simply felt & feathers man, and one string to tie it on. Melinda showed me how to put ½ my hair in a ponytail, put it on over it, then let the rest of my hair fall over it. WHY hadn’t I tried this before??!! D’uh! I’m all about learning something new, and there you have it. So anyway, I was nervous, considering the past, but I’m happy to report it stayed on my blasted head!!! It wasn’t too heavy, was quite light, no uncomfortable wire sticking into my forehead, nothing coming off. My bikini bottoms didn’t fit (the handmade ones tend to do that), so I went with a boy shorts tied up the sides which looked and fit much better. Melinda was very patient with me!  

What can I say about the Arawak Princesses, they looked perfectly colourful & stunning on the road.

We arrived in the CNE @1:00. Why is it no masquerader can easily find the way to get into the assembly area? There needs to be plenty of signs indicating where masqueraders should go, and more than one entrance for us. We came from the Go station, as always, and after maneuvering our way through the spectators, we managed to get in and eventually found Saldenah. The bands made quick progress it looked like, because in years past, arriving at 1 meant you’d be in the assembly area for awhile. We (the 8th section) were on the Lakeshore for a bit with no movement, as sections were at judging. Band vibes were nice this year, I was thrilled whenever I saw you, yet sad nearing the end that I couldn’t find all of you. But on the positive side, I met many more new blog readers who stopped to chat and thank me. I just have to say that makes me feel all of this is worth it.

I loved the stage!!! That was MY time !!!
What should the stage feel like? – this right here!!


After that we did get some stormer free time. We even made it to the end where the music stops & the masqueraders aren’t converged together any more, they’ve dispersed, gone off to the lake side or went back up the route.  I was worried it would rain, so we went off to get the annual lake side picture and eat.  I did see when I got back into the band that there was still lunch being served. I had enough water to drink, but then it wasn’t the usual scorching humid day we normally get. 

There has been a lot of complaining online (more than ever before) about how awful this year was. Sure, the stormer problem was terrible for the bands after the first 3. For me though, the storming issue has always been bad. I knew going into this parade there would be stormers. It gets progressively worse each year. I wondered though what made this year any different than previous ones? Is it due to the increase in more people capturing pictures & videos and sharing them of the assholes blatantly disregarding our mas?

Always great to see these guys.

And these guys.

All legitimate efforts to help save the parade should be applauded, not dismissed or discouraged.  There are many great ideas being discussed out there, and discussion is the first step.
 Action is the next. 
People have differing views on how securing the parade should be handled. 
I know I would like to see something different done with our present security, or lack thereof.  Bottom line, we deserve better security. It should be included in with the price of our costume. We deserve to play a safe, respectful mas.  If with educating them, stormers continue to not care about the culture, then that's unfortunate for them, but that doesn't mean we should not try to keep them out of our parade. 
This smart new idea by Trinidad Carnivals is certainly worthy of a try. Directly contacting the City of Toronto about the problemed parade hasn't been suggested before, and it certainly can't hurt, as they fund the festival.  Imagine if it works, and we get (some, any!) help with our security!! 

Check out some new initiatives that have been happening on:

 It had been many years since I got a CN Tower shot.

So everyone - your experience, how was it? Whether you're not new to this or a carnival virgin, what was your entire carnival like (from costume selection, registration & the road)?  

Caribana 2010 slideshow

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

J'ouvert 2008!

J'ouvert 2008!

Mardi Gras 2010

Buublenut, Megan & Karabana at Caribana 2007! a7


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