Will the virus kill the carnival?


Carnival Time

Will the virus kill the carnival?

Mas’ makers who are already planning for the big Jump Up on “de Boulevard” this summer will tell you that they are not scared about the Coronavirus.

Perhaps they are not as they push ahead with plans for their gaudy  band launches.

But there is growing concern that the fear of this deadly virus which has already killed thousands in many countries, can take the Toronto Caribbean Carnival off the road this year.

And let’s face it: this can happen not because mas’ makers and revellers are scared but city officials may pull the plug on the carnival out of an abundance of caution.A street party for a million people – be it the Pride parade, the Santa Claus parade or the Toronto Caribbean carnival  -is a huge petri dish for the disease.

Major events around the world are now being cancelled.   Cities are in lockdown. planes are flying almost empty. People are even hoarding toilet paper.

If the virus continues to do its deadly work, we certainly do not think that there  will there be “wining” on the streets of Toronto this summer  to a soca beat ? People in some churches are not even shaking hands or hugging one another these days for fear of contracting the virus.

Of course, we can hope that the virus will be controlled.But no one can tell whether it will continue to be a serious menace with the arrival of summer.

Last week carnival organizers, along with representatives of other festivals that are held in Toronto, met with city officials to discuss the Coronavirus,

As reported in this issue of  The Caribbean Camera, the meeting was also called to urge carnival stakeholders to “have contingencies in place.”

According to Christopher Alexander, the Chief Operations Officer of the Festival Managment Committee (FMC) which has been putting on the carnival, “the city said plan as usual. So that’s where we are right now.’’

And last Sunday, the FMC met with carnival bandleaders to discuss its plans for 2020.

But does the FMC have the resources to weather the financial storm which would result from the cancellation of this year’s Grand Parade?

The FMC whch has financial problems is almost completely funded by the Province, the City and the Federal Government. The Toronto Carnival hasn’t a big name sponsor since the Peeks Adult App stopped funding the festival a couple of years ago and there are no companies rushing in to the give  money to the FMC.

The experience base at the top of the FMC is very limited in 2020; it has been decimated by firings, resignations and death.

As the FMC awaits the arrival of government cheques,there are, of course, many in our Caribbean community who are looking forward to carnival celebrations this summer.But will there be a carnival this year? The powers that be might just do the unthinkable

If the 2020 festival has to be cancelled, it should be done soon. The FMC may then be able to regroup and live to ” jump up” another day. 

However, if  those in charge wait until July to pull the plug, after the mas’ camps, pan groups and the  calypso organization have depleted their funds, the late cancellation  could  be the end of it all.

After financial set-backs, organizational coups, and legal battles, there is a certain irony in saying that a flu-like bug could take down a more than half a century old Caribbean Canadian tradition.