Toronto mas’ takes a ‘new direction ‘ for its 50th anniversary

Gerard Weeks

The Toronto Caribbean carnival which for most of its life was officially known as Caribana, will be taking a ” new direction” this summer  when mas’ aficionados  celebrate its  50th  anniversary.

The parade of bands will still be heading down ” de boulevard” (Lakeshore Boulevard West) but there are new plans  to  make the carnival  a more enjoyable experience for  masqueraders and spectators and more manageable for the organizers.

According to  Gerard Weekes, the recently appointed parade operations manager  for the carnival,  these plans will involve ” some changes in the parade route,  earlier start times, improved judging areas and more stringent management.”

Details of the plans will be offically announced at a the Festival Management Committee (FMC) media launch  next Thursday at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto.

But  in an interview earlier this week with Weekes, the Caribbean Camera  learned that ” bands will commence on the parade route from the Western end of the Lakeshore Boulevard turning left on Newfoundland  Drive , then unto Princess Boulevard.”

“With this change in direction,  all bands will be moving along the route simultaneously instead of being stagnated in various assigned lots as in previous years,” Weekes explained.

Last year the parade started from the CNE grounds  and then preceded to Newfoundland  Drive and headed west on  Lakeshore  Boulevard.

He also reported that the judges will be spread out over a wider area in  what has been designated as ” the spectrum” on Princess Boulevard.

To help eliminate stagnation and blockage, the parade would start earlier this year.

Weekes  pointed out that ” having all bands on the Lakeshore early would assist in preventing large gaps between bands, while keeping non-masqueraders from occupying the route awaiting the arrival of bands, thus causing a blockage.”

He said that the opening ceremony starts at 8 a.m. and the parade of guest bands will begin at 8.30 a.m. and costumed bands at 9.00 a.m.

This is a major departure from former years when the parade of costumed bands started at around 11 a.m.

He also spoke of ” improved security” along the route.

” I have had  weekly meetings with law enforcement agencies  in regard to  assistance in securing the route, ” he said.

” We will be having for the first time  an extraction team. There are going to eight group of approximately 20 security officers offices. including law enforcement officers, who are going to assist in the movement of the parade,” he  added.

Weekes who was a former president and is a current director of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association and has played ” a management role” with the Toronto Revellers canival band, said he has had extensive discussions with Toronto bandleaders and other carnival stakeholders about the plans for the 50th anniversary celebrations.

And he reports ” positive reactions” from most of the stakeholders.