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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is it time to give up on the Lakeshore?


Is it time to give up on the Lakeshore?
I don’t mean move the parade from the Lakeshore, absolutely, Carnival belongs on city streets the same as ALL other parades. But we know that no downtown BIA (business improvement association) wants US on THEIR street, thus, it’s not happening.
We are trying to secure a huge stretch of hi-way and it’s pointless. We can’t lock the fences together for safety reasons, we don’t have the budget to put cops along the entire route, and the people who are storming are determined to circumvent any control.
I think the FMC and TMBA have accepted this and are in the process of giving up on the Lakeshore.
 
What was the point of the wristbands?
In the heat of the afternoon when the masses wake up, and reach downtown, and decide they are going to storm the route, everyone knows that you can’t stop them. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars erecting fences that they just open and walk through. Is it pointless? Not exactly, there are lots of people who stay behind the fence, but then again, those people would be inclined to stand orderly on the sidewalk even if there was no fence. They understand it’s a parade.

I think management decided they are going to control what they can: the Exhibition grounds. The EX is already setup to be locked down. There are easily defendable boarders with only a few points in and out. They can charge admission, to get some much needed revenue and it’s owned by the city.
So, you have to let masqueraders, media, volunteers, big pappys and band entourages in for free … then you can charge everyone else. How does the gateman tell who belongs to these free groups? We’ll give them a wrist band.
This works well, you can have a nice controlled environment where masqueraders can go un-molested and photographers can take decent pics someplace other than the judging point (see our picture improvement over last year? (It wasn't because Tony showed me how to use my camera) :)

Big mas isn’t trampled, we can set up fancy cabanas for the well heeled, we can make some money and the mas bands can drastically curtail their security budget. Did you notice the reduction in paid band security and the absence of ropes or plastic fencing? 
 
And for the masqueraders who feel they can hold their own with the sweaty masses, they are free to leave the confines of the CNE and continue down the Lakeshore. There is no more Hamilton or Barrie, so who cares if your $500 frontline costume gets crushed? What were you going to do, hang it on your bedroom wall?, take it to Miami? (tongue planted firmly in cheek)   

Allyuh, don’t get me wrong, I’m actually not criticizing management. If you can’t control the Lakeshore and the PEOPLE want a giant blocko, then give it to them. Carnival is a fluid thing that morphs to reflect the society it is portraying. It’s not Trinidad, Barbados, Brazil or even 1980’s Toronto. We have to recognize the new reality. We have hundreds of thousands of visitors and 2nd or 3rd generation Canadians who have no understanding of, or interest in playing mas or spectating. They want to party on the road.

It’s not just me getting old and crotchety, shaking my fist at the youn’uns. In the days following the parade there was this facebook group that formed about bringing a change to the parade. They have gotten about 300 members in 3 days and it is largely made of masqueraders who were not satisfied with their road experience.
I don’t pretend to speak for the group or take credit for their ideas. A lot of them liked the CNE experience and the longer route within its walls. If we could make this longer and spend more time there, perhaps make another circle, I think that would go over well. You could also expand the entertainment at the bandshell to occupy the masqueraders who don’t want to continue onto the Lakeshore and to entice more paying spectators into the CNE.
Once the parade within the Exhibition grounds is over, the music trucks could proceed down the Lakeshore along with any masqueraders who want to join them and let the street party begin.
Whether you want to see it or not, that is what is happening after 3 or 4 pm anyway.

The bands can decide whether they want to send their big mas down the road. They just have to send the music trucks, and a few hard core winer girls, that will keep the crowds satisfied.

I heard that 5 bands didn’t make it onto the Lakeshore this year. It’s not really as bad as it was in previous years, they didn’t miss much. In the past, not making it onto the road meant you were standing around all day and never got to parade. This year, they paraded and were judged in the CNE and didn’t get to be overrun on the Lakeshore. 

If we can make the EX jump up, into a 3 or 4 hour circuit maybe that is enough. At the end you have some entertainment in the CNE or you can go continue on the Lakeshore. Turn the CNE into a smaller more intimate experience, dare I say more like what Barrie was before they ran into an unwelcoming city council. At the same time, the masses who we still want to attend, can be entertained on the Lakeshore by music trucks and all the food vendors.

There may not even be any need for all that fencing on the Lakeshore, we can take the money that is going to the fence company and use it to secure the CNE and add to the entertainment lineup.
As we can get more people paying to enter the CNE, we can drop the prices, as $20 is really too high. I understand that not that many people are paying yet, but when we start to get a crowd we will need to reduce that price. We really are not trying to separate the people based on finances, we are looking to segregate based on intentions. Especially for the youth the price has to be minimal.
We want the people who will watch the mas in the EX, and the people who insist on crowding the bands to stay on the Lakeshore.

6 comments:

The Collabo said...

I agree with the idea of more emphasis being placed within the CNE, particularly for those playing mas being that it is controlled environment. From personal experience, this year I did just that and spent most of my time within the CNE. When I reached the parade, I didn't start at the beginning near the assembly area but from the Ontario place parking lot made my way up the route and was able to catch pictures of the bands that crossed early such as Connections. During the early hours of the parade the lakeshore was clear of stormers, and people were observing from behind the fences. The pictures alone of what the Lakeshore looked like as the day progressed speaks volumes. More stormers were visible than were people playing mas. This year was the most hassel free for me and I think it is in part because I didn't go down the with the band or have to deal with the stormers. Frankly I am over the whole being pushed, shoved and lack of space life, and lets just say from staying in the CNE I did have a pretty good time (and was able to go my last year playing mas in Toronto with my costume remaining intact). Hopefully next year, these issues are addressed. Pooling resources into tall fences that are not adequately preventing unwanted entry is a waste of money and man power to assemble and dissemble. I think many points and ideas you suggested should be taken into consideration. Out of curiosity, does anyone know if any of the meetings held by the FMC or TMBA are open to public?

Trini-in-Toronto said...

I have never heard of a meeting where anyone can just show up, but I think the parade management is open to hearing and trying out new ideas. The Festival always has new initiatives. Of course, everyone has a different opinion on where the priority changes need to be. The FMC has invited the person that started the Facebook group "time for change Toronto Carnival" to one of the post carnival meetings, so she will have an opportunity to give some suggestions.
Believe me, social media is a powerful tool. Comments/articles left on blogs and facebook reach the decision makers. Bandleaders read the Blogs and the FMC has a couple people on staff whose job it is not only to liaise with traditional media, but to monitor and influence what is being said online as well. Just because you didn't get into the meeting, it doesn't mean that your voice isn't being heard.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Sorry Collabo, I didn't read your name before I wrote my response. I told you a couple things you already know. If you want to attend a meeting, I'd reach out to the media contact and see if they can't get you in. If that doesn't work, I'd send an e-mail directly to a FMC member

Kara Bana said...

The first band, Connections, was eventually hit in a big way by stormers. So that was early in the day, even band #1 wasn't stormer free.
It's not that I don't want the Lakeshore to work. Of course it would be ideal to be able to parade properly along it. But the fact of the matter is, we CAN'T. How many more years do we need to endure all these stormers before we finally say ENOUGH!?

The other fact is, Toronto doesn't have enough cops to police the parade. So by simply repeating that we need more security isn't a viable solution. We don't need to keep hearing that broken record. Why hasn't security worked all these years? Bc we don't have enough. And that takes a lot of money.
What we need is to try something else.
We've got the CNE, it's been working, let's expand upon it.

48-14 said...

Hi Trini-in-Toronto. I'm doing some research related to Caribanna and came across your blog. Do you have an email or facebook that I may contact you? You will most likely see my email when I post this so we reach other that way as well.


Thanks.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Hi 48-14, Yes karabana01@yahoo.ca.

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