Toronto Caribbean Carnival cancelled

Inserted is the CEO of the Festival Management Committee , Aneesa Oumarally

Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2020, which was scheduled to be held this summer, has been cancelled.

The Festival Management Committee (FMC), organizer of the annual carnival, made the announcement yesterday.

In a news release, the  FMC stated that its Board of Directors decided to cancel the month-long events, held in July-August, “due to the continued developments concerning the spread of COVBID-19, the severe public health threat and global health crisis.”

” The events include the Festival Launch, Junior King and Queen Show, Junior Parade, Adult King and Queen Show, Pan Alive, and Grand Parade,” the release said.

Aneesa Oumarally Photo by Anthony Berot

It noted that  ” the mass crowds that attend the events present a tremendous risk regarding the spread of the virus. It is therefore unanimous that the priority must be the health and safety of our patrons and having weighed all these considerations, there is no choice but to cancel this year’s festival.

“It is our responsibility to the City and our patrons to encourage social distancing, hand washing, and self-isolation to support the efforts of our first responders and essential workers who are at the frontline of the COVID-19 containment.’

“Given the importance and economic value of this festival to the City, the Province, the Federal government, the Tourism Industry, and our community, we will work with our stakeholders and the community to assist the City with the recovery efforts,” said the FMC.

The release also  noted that  should circumstances change and permit restrictions lifted by July 1, the FMC  ” will seek to celebrate

together in a non-traditional format the weekend of August 1, 2020.”

Mas’ makers have already started issuing cancellation notices.Two were sent out this week -one from the Ol’ Time Carnival and the other from the Epic Carnival Mas’ camp.

Ol’ Time Carnival is an outdoor carnival arts show supported by the Toronto Arts Council and the City’s Art in the Park. Staged by the Cajuca Mas Arts Producers, their show uses costumed performers, live narration, drumming and calypso to tell the story of carnival, with traditional characters  such as Soucyant, Jab Molassies, Moko Jumbies, and of course, the Dame Lorraine.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Jackie Forde, the organizer said that their show planned for this summer will be presented instead in  July 2021 in Toronto’s public parks.

“We respect the need to give our communities time to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and to be able to commune and celebrate when it is safe to do so,” Forde said. “Stay safe. Stay healthy and look after one another.”

The EPIC Carnival mas’ band which had  planned to hold its 2020 costume launch on April 18  also annonced the cancellation of that popular event.

“For many weeks now we have been tempted to believe the circumstances would change in our favour, but as reality hits, we are ready to officially say that EPIC Carnival Band Launch 2020 is cancelled,”  says  a message from EPIC.

 “The decision comes as no surprise as the event exceeds government public event limits. We intend to respect the advice from experts, and work with our public health officials to flatten the curve.”

Toronto award winning costume designer Osie Brand went to Facebook to vent about the virus and its impact on Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival 2020.  Always short and to the point ,he said earlier this week, “No building mas’ in the living room this year boy!! 2020, you suck.”

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as “Caribana, the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America, was established in 1967 as part of Canada’s 100th anniversary celebrations by Caribbean immigrants.



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