Canadian born and Trini to de bone Azalea Zoe Hart, the face of Toronto Caribbean Festival 2016, told The Camera at the media launch, “I want people to respect the Mas and not storm the bands as they are going down the road.
“Pay and play during the Grand Parade on July 30, from the assembly area at Exhibition Place along the Lakeshore Boulevard, with some one million people on hand,” she said Tuesday at the Ontario Science Centre event.
The parade will travel the length of Exhibition Place before entering Lakeshore Boulevard, giving the festival more space to accommodate paying spectators.
“The route will remain the same and we listened to the public about the caging fences and will move to lower barricades where the public can get a better view of the parade,” said Chris Alexander, CAO, Festival Management Committee (FMC), referring to a perennial complaint.
“We are also working on enhancing the experience of the spectators to give them a chance to participate so they can allow the costume bands to have a free flow and not feel the need to join the costume bands. More information on that will follow as we finalize the details,” Alexander said.
“We would like to recognize and thank the band members for their participation and contributions.”
To Hart, this is good news as she also welcomed the idea that this year, North America’s largest outdoor festival will focus on family and youth, with young band leaders participating in the masquerade parades, junior chefs showcasing their knowledge of healthy food choices – the first by Grace Kennedy Foods, a leading sponsor – and calypsonians and pannists.
The public kick-off for Carnival will be July 5 at Nathan Phillips Square.
Bringing the festival which runs July 7-Aug. 7 back to the community has its pros and cons, Hart said. The management – in this case, corporate – can be a good thing, said Hart who has covered numerous carnivals internationally. She said Carnival is more than bikinis – it’s about the culture and history of Caribbean people.
Catherine Paisley, vice-president, Science, Science Education and Experience, Ontario Science Centre, concurred, noting, “In addition to recognizing innovative approaches, the Innovation in Mas’ award for costume engineering and design showcases the intersection of art and science, demonstrating that science is truly found everywhere.”
She looks forward to being part of the new Chutney in De Park July 31-Aug. 1 at Fort York with two days of live performances, food and family fun. Day one offers the flavor of Chutney in De Park, celebrating the music of Indo-Caribbean performers. Day two is the Carnival Last Lap with music fusion and more food and family fun.
FMC CEO Denise Herrera-Jackson said, “The Junior Carnival Parade-Family Day on July 16 will be the biggest children’s parade ever. The free Junior Parade will take place in and around Neilson Park in the Malvern community.
“Over 2,500 children will perform for the judges and play Mas in the ambience of games, food, Calypso and pan performances in the park after the parade,” she said
Herrera-Jackson noted the Carnival Ball on July 22 continues to be a black-tie event to honour the rich history of the festival and to sample Caribbean cuisine and the arts at Liberty Grand Ballroom on the Exhibition Place grounds.
She said the Carnival Ball will pay tribute to volunteers who have given more than 200,000 hours to the festival since its inception in 1967- 49 years ago.
And of course, come July 24, it’s Kaiso 365 Showcase, a ticketed event at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre with calypsonians vying for the Monarch title and on July 29 it’s Pan time at Lamport Stadium with 14 steelbands competing in the Pan Alive Competition for the Ontario Champion Steelpan title.
On July 28 is the glorious King and Queen Competition at Lamport Stadium, an outdoor theatrical stage, where the Kings, Queens, and individuals of the Carnival bands unveil their elaborately-themed costumes.
Finally, for those of a spiritual mind, there is an opening church service on July 10 at the Church of Nativity in Malvern and a closing service at the Anglican St. James Cathedral, Toronto.
For more details, visit www.torontocaribbeancarnival.com.