- Soca 2019! -

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How not to have a terrible time at the Caribana Parade

The following is a post that I pulled off Tripadvisor. It was posted by a spectator who came to Toronto to see the Parade and wasn’t impressed by what he saw.

I am posting it for two reasons:
1. Caribana always has room to improve, so if organizers or band leaders read the post, maybe they can bear it in mind for the future.
2. The visitor made some mistakes which could have been avoided with a liitle inside info. I would like to try and provide people with this info BEFORE they hit the parade and go and complain on Tripadvisor.

I made it to Caribana after waiting for years to see the parade again. However after a few hours I gave up. I planned my entire family vacation and return to Toronto looking forward to this event.
First, getting there was a nightmare. I was traveling with family who live in the Toronto area. We finally took a cab instead of the streetcar not wanting to be late (haha). I was warned (begged) not to believe the publish start time but I was too excited about getting there. Once there we were lucky enough to get in the staging area where the performers were gathering. We took nice shots of the floats and performers. We tried to get a good viewing spot which was almost impossible because of the huge fence. The fence barrier is new from what I recall of my previous visit.
Once the parade got started it was fun and exciting to see, then came the huge truck in the middle of the parade, completely blocking the view from one side. This leave you wishing you had chosen the other side of the street. Once the trucks passed, the marchers were back on, which was fun to see. Suddenly there were security guards with snow fences separating the marchers. Now I am trying to take pictures behind a chain linked fence and hoping not to get the security guard along with organizers in the photos (Pfffff) Once that was painfully accomplish there was a looooooong break in the procession. I thought the parade was over so I gave up my viewing spot just to see more floats heading down the street. By now I had enough or not enough to justify staying. , I really couldn't see much behind the fence with the trucks, organizers and security guards on the route. I am ready to call it a day, so we did.
I waited years to attend Caribana, a few hours to determine that too much had change and weeks asking why? So this ends my obsession and wish to see Caribana. I went, I saw , I got a few pictures for my album, I am done!. Maybe I gave up too soon, but my time in Toronto was precious and I wanted to use it wisely. Maybe I should have stuck with the memory of the first time I saw the parade years ago.

Many spectators complain about them not enjoying themselves at Caribana, so I want to make a post to help newcomers know what to do to maximize their enjoyment.

My first suggestion is to get a costume and join a band that is in the few spots in the parade. If you do this and you don’t listen to anything else I have to say on this blog, you will probably have a good time.

But really this post is for the benefit of spectators (The vast majority of attendees). If there is no possible way you can be convinced to actually play mas, I still want you to have a good time. And if you follow some simple guidelines I think you can enjoy yourself.
1. You want to sit down and watch your mas.
If you want to watch mas and see the parade with an unobstructed view, and have a seat. There is paid seating available in the CNE (Canadian national exhibition). Unfortunately, they are bleachers, so you might want to walk with an umbrella, to either shade from rain or too much sun, or if you like sun, at least bring some sunscreen. These bleachers are located right next to the judges, so you will see the masqueraders in all their glory, and there won’t be any stormers in the band. Also your view won’t be obstructed by music trucks, security or anything else. You will have food and beverages available for purchase. You can also pack your cooler. There won’t be booze on sale in that area, so you might want to discreetly pack your cooler to suit. There will also be bathrooms provided. This is the civilized way to take in the parade, a good option for the elderly, infirm, those with small children, or maybe people who just want to see the costumes but don’t really like crowds.

2. You want to see the mas, but you don’t want to pay and you don’t mind standing up and you don’t mind mingling with the masses.
You want to position yourself on the lakeshore, as close to the CNE as possible.
I would suggest taking up a position on the north side of the street (not on the side with the lake) This is because, there are some trees for shade and you are unlikely to have a music truck park right in front of you blocking your view. If you reach early and claim a spot on the little hill very close to the entrance, you should be good. You can walk with a blanket, cooler umbrella etc… it’s a good option for families.

3. The parade will never hit lakeshore at 10am ….. EVER
I know organizers say the parade starts at 10am, but really this is the time there is media stuff and polititians talking and bandleaders now tying to run down stray way masqueraders and beg them to get into their sections please. At 10 am, it still have masqueraders home trying to wash off paint from the jouvert fete the night before. You will probably start seeing bands between 11 am and noon. You still should be there at 10am or earlier if you want to secure a good spot at the beginning of the route.

4. You want to see mas, but you really want to mingle and soak up all the atmosphere, you aren’t looking to stand up one spot whole day.

Well there is lots to look around and do. If you start at the beginning of the route, cross the lakeshore to the south side and walk west. You will encounter all kinds of arts and crafts, Lots of people selling all the Caribbean favorites.
This is a very unscientific poll, but for some reason, the food is dominated by the Jamaican food ie Jerk chicken, Rice and peas, Fried fish and some Curry goat. But you can find pretty much any Caribbean food you are looking for.
You will also come across beer tents and music stations where guys setup up speakers and blast music. It’s a really good time.

5. I am young (at heart) and refuse to get a costume, but I insist on jumping the barricades and storming the band

I must admit, when I was a 17 year old student, fresh from Trinidad, with limited funds and a teenage libido, I was all up in the people band, looking to teif a wine. Now that, I am older and wiser and can afford to pay for my costume, I realize that this behavior causes some problems.
1. Firstly, the Hundreds of thousands of people who make the trek to the lakeshore, didn’t come to see you, so if there are more “spectators” in the band than masqueraders, it kinda spoils the show.
2. Secondly, it is a safety hazard when there is a crush of people jammed into a really small area, trapped there by 9 foot high fences and there are 18 wheelers rolling along the route. Mix in alcohol and youthful exuberance and there are problems.
3. Because of the crowds, bandleaders have resorted to having many security guards wearing T-shirts and Jeans while roping the band, or even worse, carrying construction fencing. This really gets in the way of picture taking and doesn’t add to the experience. Maybe the security could be issued board shorts and one of the colorful vests that male costume makers seem to favor these days. That would be nice, but I’m not sure what it would cost. I think it would look really good though. If security was muscular with no shirts and matching shorts, you might entice more ladies to join your band…… Good marketing point.

Gaps in the Parade.

The Parade is by volunteers and the masqueraders are paying customers. Their main focus is to have a good time, and play their mas. This is not the Santa Claus parade. I have no idea how to organize an event of this size and I now how unruly a bunch of partying West Indians can be, so please have some patience and realize that there will be delays. I don’t know what causes them, but I know the organizers have a thankless job, so bear with them, they are doing their best.

Getting There.

Parking can be pretty expensive, and traffic can be a pain (Also if you are drinking, dplease don't drive). The best bet is to park at a GO Train Station and take the train straight into the CNE (Exhibition). I Don't really have patience for the TTC, but if you can deal with it, you can grab a bus from Bathurst Station or from Dufferin station. Also you can call 416-393-INFO for details.

Anyways, this post is getting too long, and I have several months to go. When I think of more tips I will post again


Congratulations to Bush Lily

Congratulations to Bush Lily.

Despite our best efforts, our African Coral entry has come up short by some 45 Votes (I'm told).

I want to thank everyone who voted for us. It looks like we will have to pay to get into the band launch to blog about it, but we will be there.

Keep checking back and we will try to keep everyone informed as the festival rolls closer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ontario carnival "Bachannal Crew"

This is a letter I got from my section leader from Last year.
I had a really good time in her section and I found her to really know what she was doing and made me feel welcome as a first timer in her section. (My old section leader defected to Nationz.)

This is the name of her section and some info on early registration.

Section : Pescado del Profundo - Fish of the Deep
Caribana 2008 - THE DEEP August 2nd 2008
There will be a choice of colours.
The women
Bonito's Royal Blue
Wahoo's Bright Red
The Men
King Fish
The Deep Band Launch is May 31 at Embers
Note: Our Mas Camp will be moving to a new location this year.
I will keep you informed.
I will be offering $10.00 off early registration to June 1st.

Please contact me at trini@ rogers.com to register early!
I am Limited to the number of Bonito's and Whaoo's
I have so I need to know your color.
Large Head Pc $145.00
Small Head Pc $125.00
Men $125.00
Early registration Deposit $50.00
& The bachannal Crew
We have most fun!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

African Coral

YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LIVE FOR a l'il thing called CARIBANA. Another one of my fave things is FREEbies ;-), & I'm asking YOU to help me BIG TIME with both: one of my entries has been chosen in a name the (Caribana) Toronto Revellers costume section contest...African Coral... would you kindly vote for African Coral please... it's for an extremely worthy cause, so Trini-in-Toronto & I can win Caribana costumes (& go to their launch) and then blog a l l about it. :-D :-D African Coral
One vote per day per person (per computer) until next Monday the 24th to vote. So pllllllleeeease VOTE daily for African Coral. I neeeeeds to get us free costumes! :-) African Coral

Scroll to the right of the page under Polls

THANKS soooo much!!!!!
African Coral

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ALKEBU'LAN... Beyond the Nile

Toronto Revellers - Caribana 2007 Band of the Year
They are having their band launching on Saturday May 10th, 2008 at @ The Armenian Community Centre 45 Hallcrown Place (Victoria Park Ave & 401)
Their presentation this year is entitled "ALKEBU'LAN... Beyond the Nile”
Alkebu’lan is said to be the original name used for the continent that is now called Africa. So, you can safely bet that the band will look to Africa, for inspiration.
Toronto Revellers have grown by leaps and bounds in the 5 short years that they have been in the game. After having won both the Kiddies and band of the year titles last year, the size of their band should grow considerably (I think they were the largest band last year).
I don't have any friends who played with them last year. (probably because I lime with a slightly older crowd) but, the costumes were beautiful and the people looked like they were having a time and if they did anything really bad we would have heard about it because people like to complain more than they give praise.
Not only that , but I like how Maglorie gets involved with the youth and other charity in the city. His fame might draw in the second and third generation kids who were born here and don't have such a strong Caribbean connection. If he can help to influence them to take pride in their Caribbean roots, they might actually see themselves putting on a costume and ensuring that mas will continue to evolve in Toronto. I wish him and his band the best of luck.
So if you are looking for a band to play with, especially if you are younger or maybe a basketball fan, you might want to check out this band. Or at least go to their launch, it sure to have plenty attractive young ladies.
They also have a contest going on to win a male and female costume, plus a pair of tickets to their band launch. All you have to do is give a name to their salmon colored section.
For details and to check out the rest of their website go to http://www.torontorevellers.com


Monday, March 10, 2008

Scotiabank jumps up with Caribana

Thanks for everyone who keeps on checking in, even though we have been on hiatus since last year.... Thanks for not forgetting us.

Well I hope all of you all had a safe and happy carnival. We didn't reach Trinidad, (work conflicts) but I still read allyuh blogs religiously. I didn't say much, I was kinda sour from the Carnival tabanca nah.

Anyways, I still finding it REAL hard to sit down and blog about Caribana since it still too cold, and snow pile up on my front yard taller than me. But, things are starting to happen, so I must say something.
I read that Scotiabank has taken on sponsorship of the Caribana festival. They have signed a 2 year deal, for an undisclosed sum of money, to be Caribanas' Title sponsor.

If you visit the official Caribana website http://www.caribanafestival.com, you will see that there are banners saying Soctiabank Caribana, and there are multiple links back to the banks website.
I think its a great idea for them to sponsor the festival. It will generate a lot of goodwill from the community. My mortgage is with Scotia, and now I have a really good reason to stay with them .... mind you, they still better come with a competitive rate :) And my next car will probably come from Foster Pontiac... This is money well spent.
In all seriousness, I think you need to support the sponsors of our culture. We know of many companies that target our community for revenue, but don't really financially support the festival. (ah not calling no names...yet)
This is a great thing all round, the organizers will realize that if you take big money from really large corporations, these sponsors will demand a higher level of professionalism surrounding all of the events they lend their name to. I think this can only help Caribana. I don't remember another year when Caribanas' website was updated this early in the year...

Several of the articles that I have read, express the hope, that this will send a message to other large companies, that it is safe, and makes good business sense to associate their companies with this event.

OK, now that I have broken the ice, I promise that I will be posting regular and it won't be so serious as this post. I'll try and buss some jokes and get some pictures and ting.
There is lots to report on, Band launches and themes have been announced and the fetes have started. Dr Jay had his return fete, I hear it was real good, but I'm still not hitting no fete while there is snow on the ground :(

Anyways, I'm gone for now and if you have any questions or comments, please don't be shy



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Mardi Gras, Hamilton

Mardi Gras, Hamilton

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J'ouvert 2008!

J'ouvert 2008!

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