Following a couple of weeks of Mas confusion, there seems very little doubt that Louis Saldenah’s 4,400-strong Mas-K Club will be in this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival parade.
Chris Alexander, CAO of the carnival’s Festival Management Committee (FMC), confirmed yesterday that Salenah’s award-winning band – largest in the parade – will be back.
A bid by Toronto Mas Band Association (TMBA) to exclude Mas-K has failed, Alexander said, adding that each participating band will be signed individually rather than the past practice of signing the bands collectively through the TMBA. The bands have been given a deadline to sign.
Obviously happy to put the controversy behind him, Saldenah admitted “It was very stressful for me and my organization,” adding that rumours he would have 6,000 costumed revellers in the parade this year are wrong.
“We had 4,400 last year and I am capping it at 4,400 this year,” he said. The theme is The Chronicles of Machel Montano, named for the Trinidad-born King of Soca.
A spokesman for the TMBA said Mas-K and Saldenah remain suspended by his organization, which represents all the other bands.
Asked if TMBA will adhere to the new rule that each band signs individually, the spokesman said, “We are aware of the situation.” Pressed to elaborate, he added, “No comment.”
When asked what the TMBA will do next, he said, “We’ll see.”
Alexander said the FMC was disappointed in the uproar the controversy has created in the community and stressed that “we must work together.” He noted that the dispute is not good for the event’s image.
He said his understanding is that the TMBA has reversed its decision on excluding Saldenah and Mas-K but added that “we have no interest in interfering with the workings of the TMBA.”
Carnival is a three-week celebration of Caribbean music, costumes, food and culture and is the largest festival of its kind in North America. The official launch is July 7 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at Metro Hall.