By Stephen Weir
The Saldenah family pulled it off.
There was too much at stake. Renowned masquerade bandleader Louis Saldenah and his family were able to get a record number – 2,800 people – into the Scarborough Cinnamon Banquet Hall. They had 120 fancy-dressed models on and off the stage before the bar closed at 2 am, and didn’t have a heart attack getting the job done!
Carnival, the largest and most winning Canadian band in the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade, is taking it all to heart in 2019. Note that their theme is, “Heart Beat: The Thrill of Life’’. And, to keep the whole thing beating a record 17 sections were needed to show all the costumes they will have on the road August 3 this year.
“We expect to be making 6,000 costumes this season,” said Hayden Harbin. “There will be five trucks on the road with special guest stars on the floats. So we needed, and got, a strong launch on Saturday
The Caribbean Camera understands that one of the “special guest stars’’, to which Saldenah referred, is popular Trinidad soca artiste Nadia Batson.
Saldenah was thrilled with the large numbers that attended the band’s launch. “That wasn’t just the ticket holders,’’ he explained. “We also had 17 sections with at least six models in each. There were the Rhythm Section performing before the show, all the ‘Socasizers’, the deputy mayor of Toronto Michael Thompson, and even (Caribbean singer) Iwer George came out on stage at the launch.”
Breathless. Lust. Love. The “Heart’’ theme was carried throughout the lengthy show. The theme was reflected not only in the names of the sections, but also in the colours of the costumes (reds and pinks dominated) and in the highly choreographed performances.
One doesn’t usually see political types attending Toronto Carnival costume launches, especially when they don’t get started until after midnight. But, Councillor Michael Thompson is the unofficial mayor of Scarborough and did come by to kick-off the costume launch for Saldenah Carnival. He wasn’t in Mas, so no one showed any interest in his clothes (but, he did get a few offers for his new black sneakers; unfortunately, not shown in our pictures).
When the speeches ended and the stage was cleared, a non-stop cavalcade of highly skilled models danced and showed their stuff till just before the bars closed down. It was a fashion show for the ages; costumes that will be worn on the parade route in August.
There was a jarring note to the launch. Prior to the start of the show, there were messages and pictures flashed on screens around the room. One of the messages? Don’t bring guns and other weapons to the Carnival Grand Parade.
“What is next,” asked Hayden Saldenah? “We were touring a large warehouse today. We have to nail down the location of our camp ASAP. Expect an announcement by the weekend!”