Another summer just past its mid-way point, and another Caribana festival weekend has come to an end, surely having injected Toronto’s economy yet again with over $300 million, and leaving a glittery trail on Lakeshore west. Although it’s official name has changed now to “Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival” it will always be Caribana to me.
They say over 1 million people gather along the parade route during the celebratory weekend, starting at the CNE grounds, where there’s now paid bleacher seating for 15,000, and the parade and partygoers stretch west past Roncesvalles.
Instead of jumping right into the epicentre on a scorching day that “felt like 42 degrees”, I headed south on the Carnival Express bus that took off from Landsdowne subway station on the Bloor line and dropped us off right by the Lakeshore. I spent the afternoon soaking in the infectious celebratory atmosphere that felt like a vacation beach party injected with steroids. Sunnyside Pool was in a perfect spot for a post-parade dip. I could still hear the thumping tropical rhythms even under water at the pool.
By the time dancers in the parade reached Landsowne and further west, they had already been going at it for a few miles, but you could hardly tell, although we were all dripping sweat and chugging water. Beautiful to see ambassadors from many different islands, representations of many different musical and dance styles, and history all represented in gorgeous colourful fashions. Despite being a born-and-bred Torontonian, I somehow had never witnessed the Caribana parade up close and personally, and after experiencing it this year I know it’s something I’ll try to never miss again.