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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Can we stop stormers?

Can we stop stormers?
I've been pleased to see that there has been a lot of great discussion this past week on Facebook about the increasing storming problem at our carnival. ---> Time For Change Toronto Carnival  Blame is mainly being placed on the FMC, Scotiabank, non Soca trucks, and the Toronto police.

But I say blame history.

I don't know when storming first became a real issue, if it was when the parade moved to the Lakeshore, or before that.  As long as I've been playing mas, which started in 2000, there have been people crashing the parade. Bands have tried fences or ropes to keep them out, which was met with a small amount of success. This year, there were no security people using fences or ropes. Is that because they decided not to waste the money on it anymore since they eventually get infiltrated? Or since this wristband policy was in effect they hoped it wouldn't be necessary? I'd really like to know.

You can't change history. It's a very difficult thing to tackle, changing other people's behaviours. Damn near impossible actually. In fact, you know what they say: you can't change someone, you can only change how you react to them.
People know they can storm Caribana. They expect to. They plan their trip to Toronto, or locals gather their crew and trek down to the Lakeshore with the intent of jumping in on the parade.

When I first heard the term "ghettobana" being used, it just solidified to me my fear about the nasty reputation it now has. It's basically a street party. A free for all. Where young & not so young guys feel they can do more than ogle women in bikinis, they can jam on them and grab them. That is what our carnival has become. I've read many comments in the past several years online from guys bragging about how many women they jammed on, and worse. Basically there are plenty of assaults happening on Lakeshore. I'm sure all of us masqueraders have been grabbed inappropriately throughout the years.
And female stormers, wow. Just take a look at many of the outfits they wear, I don't know if it's their warped way of "fitting in" or standing out apart from the costumes. Many think it's about being as scantily clad as possible and they ho it up. They clearly feel compelled to compete with the costumes. Why it doesn't occur to them to wear a costume baffles me.

So we can't suddenly tell people they can't storm the parade. The high fencing doesn't work to keep the determined out, they just collectively open them and bust in like a herd. So you say well, have security then, all along the fences to ensure they don't open them and come in. Or police officers. This is one of those examples of how something sounds right in theory, but in practice, it doesn't work. You have to imagine how that would play out. Fights would of course ensue. Spectators far outnumber security or officers. And police officers carry guns. That's all we need, gunfire, and a stampede of people locked in and pushing get out.
No thank you.  Btw, you CAN'T lock the fences/gates. They MUST be able to be opened in cases of emergencies. EMS crews are always carrying masqueraders out.

So that leaves us to change our reaction to them. I think we can expand upon the CNE. Two years ago when we started the circle, I didn't quite understand or like it, as there were hardly any spectators. But after this year, with more people legitimately inside the CNE (meaning, they paid), I see the value of it for the mas bands. We get to parade around and go before judging unencumbered. We should add to that by parading around more of the CNE. Give the bands more opportunity inside the secure CNE with spectators who paid to watch us. That way, masqueraders will feel they've gotten a more positive parade experience. After, if they want to then take their chances with the masses on the Lakeshore, they can. Or they can stay within the CNE and go watch the show. The CNE is able to be properly secured whereas the Lakeshore, being a public street, isn't.

I think the wristbands were meant for the CNE. How were organizers going to implement the wristband policy on the Lakeshore? The answer is they weren't. That would mean having security all along the route, which is impossible (see above).   

So can we stop stormers? No, I don't think so. But we can change our parade.


mr-wonderful said...


Black Queen said...

My grandma goes to watch mas each yr and she enjoys herself all the time, expect for this yr. she said she doesn't understand why the bands had the music truck blocking the ppl who paid to set in the stands. She paid $15 plus bus fare to watch a music truck. She was not happy at all, but will be going next yr again and may just get a VIP tent or do what the others do and become a stormier! lol

Black Queen said...

ok Hello I fully agree with the stormier issue. It needs to stop, the worse part is the girls storm have the nerve to look at you and tell u to move out of their way. I had one girl who wanted to fight me because I told her not to pull on my costume backpack! I was shocked and told her I paid to play mas, go buy a costume and move out my way.

My grandmother said she did not have a fun time this yr because the stupid music trucks were blocking her view of the bands. She said what was the point of having ppl pay big money $20-15 to watch music trucks! she said next yr it will be a VIP TENT or she will just be a stormier.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

I hear you on the truck issue, I did notice at the judging point, the trucks pulled up directly opposite the judges, so, they would block people who set up in that area. I guess your granny needs to look for a spot just before the judges. Hopefully it works out for her next year

Shante Gardner said...

Being a masquerader, I personally don't see a problem with "stormers". If I'm correct, caribana is the only parade with fences and the only parade that tries to separate those in Mas and regular folks.

Caribana is not a regular parade, it's not only visual but participatory and I think it's extremely exclusionary to physically fence out people that can't afford a $200 "costume".

Also, fences, security, wristbands and other deterrence have never worked. I think it's time for all of us to recognize the fact that the cast majority of people enjoy coming on the road and joining the parade. It is those people that find the parade as well.

But, just my thoughts :)

Kara Bana said...

Caribana is supposed to be like other parades, where participants get to properly parade their mas for the spectators to view. Unfortunately the history of it expanding & growing has made it so that it's become what it now is - a free for all.

People who didn't pay for a costume *should* be excluded. It's the people don't understand mas who think they should be allowed to jump up.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion. You aren't the first masquerader to say they don't mind stormers. And true, I think Toronto is unique in having these tall fences we all wish they weren't needed. In Toronto, there are so many stormers that the parade looses any visual impact for the spectators. If there is no show, what are they coming to see? They figure everyone else is doing it, I'll jump in too. But many of the guys who paid for costumes want to "parade" and provide a show for the crowd. If they can't do this, I fear many will stop participating. There is also the safety factor where many of the ladies simply don't feel safe in the middle of a thick crowd of jostling strangers while wearing a bikini. I don't blame them. This is not the experience they are accustomed to in the Caribbean. If someone's only experience of carnival is in Toronto, then I could understand that they might think it normal that non-masqueraders vastly outnumber masqueraders inside your band. But this is not the mas playing experience in many other carnivals.

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