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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

What are the fences for?

 Photo credit blogTO.com

There is no band launch this weekend, so I’m going to take this respite to talk about the biggest threat to our festival… crowd control.

Why are scarce funds being spent on fencing off the Lakeshore?

Is it time to try something different?

The managers of the parade have been fencing it since we were exiled out of the city core. The main purpose of the fences is to separate spectators from parade participants (masqueraders). 
How’s that working out for you?

I don’t think anyone but the fence company is happy with this arrangement. Spectators, who want to come and watch the parade from the sidelines, hate to be stuck behind a tall fence. They can’t see the parade. All of their photos have ugly fences in them and they can’t interact with people they know in the parade.
Stormers don’t like the fences either. It doesn’t keep them out, but it slows them down when they have to leave the band to get a beer or take a leak. Let me define who I refer to as a stormer.  A stormer is a person who enters a paid or invitation only event without paying or being invited. You can storm a party, a wedding, a sports event or in this case, a parade.
I’m not referring  to spectators who breach the ugly fences and remain on the sidelines to watch the parade and take pictures. That’s what parade spectators should do. And if they see a friend in the parade and go and hug them and take a little wine, maybe snap a selfie and then return to the sidelines, I don’t call you a stormer. I have no issue with you.
Where you cross the line is when you enter the parade in the middle of the peoples band and want to jump up the whole day. That is what the masqueraders paid for. And if you want to jump up the whole day, you need to play mas, or wine to the side.

Who are the fences keeping out?

The fences are keeping out the true spectators who would gladly obey the rules. They see a fence, so they stay behind it. They see some hooligan cut a hole in the fence, and they don’t walk through it. They stay behind it with their family members and complain that there is a fence obstructing their view and that all these people in street clothes have overrun the parade, so there is nothing to see anyway.

If there are no fences doesn’t that mean that the parade will be completely overrun?


That sparse section on the right is the fenced off area for spectators.. not too many people
I hate to break it to you, but, anyone who wants to go and jump up in the band does so with minimal obstruction. All they do is walk along the fence until they see a spot that someone has opened it. The fence isn’t keeping ANYONE out. What the fence is doing is obstructing the view of the people who don’t care to storm the band.
You can see from the above picture that there are more spectators inside the band than there are behind the fence. The FENCE IS NOT WORKING….. Hellooooo? Can anybody hear me? Why are you throwing away money on the fence year after year after year?


What portion of the annual budget goes towards all this fencing? Let me tell you, it’s a pretty closely guarded secret. Somebody doesn’t want you to know what that number is.

How do we keep stormers out of the band?
Most stormers see an opportunity to go and jump up for free and take advantage. Once they breach the fence they don’t see anyone stopping them.

I think the fence money needs to go to the bandleaders who can use it to rope off the bands using volunteers in t-shirts. Only bandleaders are responsible to masqueraders (their customers). The leader of the FMC has publicly stated a couple of times that the interests of masqueraders as a group just hasn’t been on their radar in the past.
All the friends and family who wear marshal shirts, let them hold a rope. Just hold it, don’t fight anybody, don’t argue with anyone, don’t even give them cut eye. This will separate the sheep from the goats and deter maybe two thirds of the people who are currently entering the bands.
For the other third of hardcore stormers who are bold enough to jump the rope, that is where you have paid security and marshals who will ask them to leave the band please.  Some will leave voluntarily.
You can’t physically throw them out. This isn't Trinidad. If the remaining stubborn folks stay in the band and don’t bother anyone, that’s OK. If they start to harass masqueraders, then paid security can bring the behavior to the attention of police. 
Deploy four or five uniformed officers for every thousand masqueraders in a band (we are paying for paid duty officers anyway). The job of the Toronto Police is not to keep stormers out. They are there to protect the peace. By just being on a public street, stormers aren’t breaking any law.

Also, ladies, if you don’t like having your band overrun to the point that you can’t even be judged, don’t wine on a man without a costume. 

And fellas, if you see a guy behaving inappropriately and disrespecting our culture by pointing a video camera between some woman's legs or forcefully wining on or grabbing a woman who doesn’t welcome the attention: please get a marshal and round up some strong-men or security and let these guys know that this is unacceptable. It is our responsibility to protect our women. The parade needs to be a safe place for them. Fences don’t stop bad behavior, people do.

We can’t just do the same thing over and over and wonder why our crowd control issues get worse every year. Last year, only four out of eight bands were able to be judged because spectators overran the stage.
A backline costume now costs about $250. Each band is only on the route maybe 4 or 5 hours. For that kind of money, masqueraders expect to be able to play their mas unencumbered.
These fences are not doing the job and it is getting worse every year.
Proper truck skirting in Trinidad Carnival    Photo credit writeronthemove.com
Another issue that needs to be addressed is, why are we letting trucks onto the parade route that aren’t skirted? How many more people need to be killed by parade vehicles? I can’t believe this still needs to be debated. Do we have so little regard for our patrons? No skirts… no entrance.
This is not an unpredictable outcome. People are going to be drunk. They will be dancing inches away from 18 wheelers, people will climb on and off moving trucks, and YOU have fenced us into a narrow 3 lane stretch of pavement with thousands of sweaty revellers. People are going to die … people have died. We need to cover the side of the trucks so you cannot easily be crushed under the wheels. Take some fence money and attach some plywood … it’s not that complicated. To not do it, is grossly negligent. I can’t believe their insurance company doesn’t insist on this.
Don't make me start posting photos of un-skirted trucks with your sponsor's banner in the background. Do the right thing. 
I am no logistics expert, so call me out if I am talking nonsense.  Let me know what you think should be done.

4 comments:

Kryssy said...

The fences are an eyesore, an annoyance, and as you said, useless. I 100% believe that the problem lies with the organizers and the people (meaning both masqueraders and stormers)
1. The organizers need to invest in Media & social media EDUCATION to the people. You know the cute commercials they put on every year about the parade? Well they need to have twice as many commercials reminding the public that it IS a parade and not a street party. Let them know they are NOT welcome on the route unless they are participating in the parade. Etc. etc. etc. They could take a few cues from the videos that Save Toronto Carnival have created.
2. The people: the stormers need to get the hell off the route. Period. They have no respect for us, no respect for the culture, and no respect for the people that actually want to see the parade. Many of them would not think it was a street party if some parade participants didn't welcome them on the route. And as has been said before, there are these chicks that are too "whatever" to BUY a costume and participate, but not too "whatever" to go buy a skimpy outfit and infiltrate the parade. Hello... We women in costume are not competing with you. We aren't trying to catch a man. 😒 And these young men with no impulse control and no respect just hop on the parade route and try to get close to anyone with a pulse... Masqueraders & stormers alike.
I had fun in the CNE last year. If the organizers kept the parade in there going forward, I wouldn't mind one single bit.

Crying Wolf said...

I agree about the CNE loop Kryssy, we were unfortunately (locked in the CNE) lucky (because the amount of raiding was minimal and it's the most fun I had during Caribana in a long time). My BF was one of those people that nearly got into a fight with a pervy "photographer" who was sneaking crotch shots of girls fixing their costumes. They weren't even dancing or anything when it happened. People seem to misinterpret Caribana as a parade to hook up with horny black people. And that's not the case at all, just like every other carnival in the world there will be skimpiness and dancing, doesn't mean we want the d. We just want to have a good time and feel good in our own skin. Not to deny that hooking up can and does happen, but that's not what the parade is about. I also think the fences are there to try and keep the people off the parade route for as long as possible, to kind of impose the idea that people are supposed to stay behind the fence. But it's not working, especially when people cut the fence and risk breaking their limbs jumping the fence to raid the parade. People have no respect and don't understand that Caribana is a show, not a party.

KevCanada said...

Thank you for your thoughts Kara. I am so glad you have continued to address this issue since the end of last year's parade. I absolutely agree with you regarding the fences and stormers. When the stormers pour onto the streets the human congestion is overwhelming, as is my sense of clausterphobia. For the past two years I have quit the parade route by British Columbia Ave because I am crushed on all sides by people who do not have a costume.

How are things done in Trinidad, New York, or Miami for their Carnival parades? Are there crowd control lessons we can learn from other similar large parades? What do the Band leaders have to say about this issue? Do they have any suggestions?

Maybe higher, stronger fences sends the wrong message to spectators. It seems as though the presence of a fence only encourages some to hop it or cut through it. Once stormers are on the parade route it is very difficult to get them out because the fencing traps them in.

I also agree with increasing the message that Caribana is a parade, not a street party. I would love to see a "Respect the 'Mas" media blitz 1 month before the parade to educate the public on Caribana etiquette on how to enjoy the parade without ruining the experiences of the masqueraders.

Thanks again Kara. Keep posting!

Kara Bana said...

Thanks KevCanada but Trini-in-Toronto wrote the post, not me. (it happens all the time. ;-))

That's usually the spot that I leave the parade too, British Columbia Ave, bc it's opened up at that point. At the first opening, I try to get out, when I just can't take it anymore. I too am claustrophobic and hate that sense of being enclosed in with that crush of people barely moving.

We all should agree at this point that there's a significant amount of people who resent the fences. So organizers: try something else. Don't obstruct spectators view. But keep stormers out of the bands properly with band security in the form of ropes/plastic fencing.

Absolutely, all Toronto media needs to reconsider and re-brand their 'jump up' message and emphasize the mas more. It's NOT a street party/free-for-all, but an actual parade with paid participants.

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