By Stephen Weir
Ooh la la costumes. Thundering pans. Sweet calypso. And while they are at it, throw in a few big name soca performers.
Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020 is getting ready to digitally jump up and thumb noses at the Coronavirus come July.
While the annual summer festival in downtown Toronto has been cancelled this year because of COVD-19, the festival with its rich traditions will be coming to a computer screen near you in about five weeks
Late yesterday afternoon, Aneesa Oumarally, CEO of the Festival Management Committee (FMC) which organizes the carnival, told The Caribbean Camera that it ‘s ” all systems go for the Big Event.
“The goal of the Digital Carnival is to remember yesteryear, remember what we are missing and showcase the the carnival to the world at large, to those that don’t come downtown and sit on the grass,” said Oumarally.
“ We will show them all the things we participate in and how we as a community contribute to the Greater Toronto Area”
Since the City cancelled all large summer events, Oumarally has been meeting with the city officials, carnival bandleaders, pan groups and the Ontario Calypso Performers Association
to see if it is possible to capture the magic of Carnivals past and showcase it online.
“Although the details haven’t been fully worked out, the FMC has the “go ahead ” and the funding to make it happen in July.
“For several nights in July there will be performances using footage from past years, borrowed footage from stakeholders and new pan and calypso performances, including some big name surprises.'”
Oumarally pointed out that “every aspect of carnival will be streamed online, using the FMC’s website https://www.torontocarnival.ca/ along with Zoom and Facebook. The programming, be it a calypso concert or a pan performance, or a late night costume launch, will be shown free. And it won’t be all content for adults. The children will get their proper due.
“ Of course, we are going to use some of the content we already have (from past kiddie Carnivals) but we are trying to see whether we can bring the children into the studio from different areas of the city. We want to stream their presentation with all of them performing together – in a social distancing manner – for the audience at home.”
“We will also be doing the King and Queen,” she continued. “ We have had so many Kings and Queens, we want to do the best of them! We will prepare videos on the design, people putting costumes together and, of course, the big show.”
” Different bandleaders bring different elements to their costumes and the parade. So, all aspects of the annual event will be seen through the eyes of the 14 different mas’ bands,”she noted.
Discussions are underway with the carnival bandleaders to let them put on the shows they didn’t get to stage live in August.
Here is an overview of the digital plan for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020
July 3, 2020 – Proclamation of Toronto Caribbean Carnival month
Week of July 6, 2020 – Steelpan – Children and the Carnival – Passing on the torch
Week of July 12, 2020 -Junior King and Queen and Junior Carnival
Week of July 20, 2020- Celebrating Calypso – the history and the artform
Week of July 26, 2020 – King and Queen – Design, Innovation in mas’
August 1st (TBA)