Scarborough Welcomes Toronto Caribbean Carnival Launch

From left: Michael Coteau, Mischka Crichton, Fred Mifflin, Jennifer Hirlehey, Gary Anandasangaree and Ahmed Hussen

By Anthony Joseph

The Scarborough Town Centre was transformed into a lively hub of Caribbean culture as the Toronto Caribbean Carnival Launch took place at its new location on Saturday, marking a historic first for the 57-year-old festival. The relocation from Toronto City Hall and the shift to a weekend schedule were significant changes aimed at broadening the event’s reach and inclusivity.

Running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the festival featured a dazzling array of costumes from participating bands, the electrifying calypso sounds of King Cosmos, and captivating steelpan performances by Pan Fantasy. International star Patrice Roberts graced the event, adding to the excitement and drawing a diverse crowd eager to celebrate Caribbean culture.

Soca singer Patrice Roberts get ready to cut the ribbon with Jay Fire holding on the left

City Councillor Michael Thompson expressed pride in the new location, saying, “For the first time in 57 years, we’re doing a launch in Scarborough. I’m so proud that you guys are here. Scarborough has always celebrated the Canadian Carnival and many other Caribbean festivities. This event is a testament to the contributions of the Caribbean community to our city and country.”

The festival’s new location received a warm reception from attendees and officials alike, but not without a constructive note for future improvements. Attendees, including many families, highlighted the need for better stage positioning to mitigate discomfort from the sun. Councillor Jamal Myers noted, “It’s great to see everyone out here enjoying themselves. A mas man said next time, they should consider positioning the stage to face west to have the sun washing the costumes on stage. This small change could significantly enhance the experience for everyone.”

Michael Thompson, emphasized the festival’s enduring impact, stating, “The Toronto Caribbean Carnival is the People of the Caribbean’s gift to Canada on Canada’s 100th birthday. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. This festival not only celebrates Caribbean culture but also brings economic benefits, attracting over $300 million to the city and over 2 million visitors each year.”


Dr. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, reflected on the festival’s roots in Scarborough. “I remember when we started the junior carnival in Malvern. It’s incredible to see how it has grown and how Scarborough has become a vital part of this celebration. We are proud Canadians, and events like this showcase our multiculturalism, which is the envy of the world.”

The event also saw heartfelt acknowledgments of the hard work of the festival’s organizers and volunteers. Jennifer Hirlehey, Mischka Crichton , and Adrian Charles were particularly praised for their leadership and dedication. Ahmed Hussain, MP for York South—Weston, remarked, “Your enthusiasm and creativity have helped to make this event the largest and most spectacular cultural festival of its kind in North America.”

The day’s festivities were not just a celebration but a call to action. Aris Babikian, MPP for Scarborough — Agincourt, urged attendees to support local vendors and businesses. “This is hard work, and it’s not easy. I encourage everyone to come out and support the vendors who play a crucial role in making this festival a success.”

Andrea Hazel, MPP for Scarborough Centre, echoed the sentiments of unity and celebration. “This is a celebration like no other. It’s a labor of love. Let’s go out there and celebrate our Caribbean-ness, our Scarborough-ness, and our Canadian-ness. This is what makes us proud.”

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s launch in Scarborough was a resounding success, promising a bright future for the festival in its new home. With the community’s feedback and continued support, future events are expected to be even more inclusive and enjoyable, celebrating the rich tapestry of Caribbean culture in Canada.