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Toronto International Carnival (Caribana)

Toronto's CN Tower: Dine at 346 meters (1142 feet) in a 360 degree revolving restaurant built in a free standing
tower and on a clear day it is said, you can see Niagara Falls, approx. 30 Kilometers (18 miles) away -- as the crow
flies. CN tower in total is 553.33 meters high (1825 feet) at it's highest point.
And while you're in Toronto you can hardly avoid Yonge Street, a venue for many parades. Stretching 1,896km, make
this bustling street the longest  in the world . Ontario Fact Book

Toronto and Caribana in the Beginning: We love it, look forward every year to this events. But we probably never give
thought to those, whom, were it not for their labor of love, their passion for this culture. It would all probably not have
happened. Toronto International Carnival: The premier North American summer event. If you haven't been there...
they're probably saying you don't get out.
Toronto International Carnival. "(Caribana)"
is now solidly in the ranks of North American
events. This eighteen day carnival is a
demonstration of Caribbean carnival at it's
best with an exhausting program of
Caribbean show-pride (arts and crafts).

It is significant that in a break down of the
racial and ethnic demographics of Ontario,
the major groups are of English and other
European extracts.

Behind these are Chinese and East Indians,
while the Caribbean numbers fall into the
category of [others]. But come the summer
months from mid-July to early August the
Caribbean people looms largely. With the
start of the Caribbean carnival, Toronto
knows we are here. It's much more than a
Carnival folks!

Caribana, Kings and Queens
Search
Toronto and Mass -- growing together

It is illustrative of the awkward fit between Toronto and the culture of Carnival that it took many, many years for
Toronto and the organizers of this northern Carnival to settle on a route.

The Toronto of 1967 was not the Toronto of today....It was in 1967 that Canada introduced a point system that
would allow would be immigrants from the Caribbean, India and China... to be admitted on the basis of skill, rather
than race. The Caribbean community in Toronto in 1967 was made up of largely students although there were
workers who had manage to slip by Canada's White immigration policy....Given the racial and ethnic composition of
the 1960s, it must have been taken an incredible leap of imagination and overwhelming self-confidence for the small
but broad based group of Caribbean Immigrants to propose a cultural project to celebrate Canada's centennial year.
It was 1967, the year of Expo'67' even in dour Toronto citizens were loosening up. Still nothing could have prepared
main stream Toronto for the first Carnival parade down Yonge street.

It was a small group of masqueraders who I think had great courage back then to wear their gaudy costumes to and
from the parade. But they did. That occasion was the start of today's enormously popular carnival that has put
Toronto on the tourist map and made it a major tourist event, if not the biggest summer event in North America.

Adjustments on both sides

The period from 1967 to today has seen adjustments on both sides. Official and non-official Toronto weren't always
happy with this tropical efflorescence that took to the streets the first Saturday of every August. There were
complaints at City Council that the money -- the little money -- given to the Carnival organizers could have gone to
more worthwhile municipal causes. There was talk of lack of accountability . There was talk of...ah...misbehavior on
the day of the parade. There was talk of imbibing of...ah...cane based potables on the street.

This was Toronto, after all -- New York ran by Presbyterians, if not Calvinist. Let's just say the idea of an unabashed
street Carnival was something alien to Toronto while the idea of  Carnival confined to one street was alien to early
participants in the parade...So city council was faced with a tropical fete and growing numbers of spectators. The
 question for many councilors (or Aldermen as they were called back then) was : "How do we fit this phenomenon
into our city?" By then two ideas had taken root. This street carnival was not going away and it brought buckets of
money into the city. Obviously, the parade and the festivities were here to stay. Obviously young Canadians too,
had begun to see the festivities as theirs...

Fusion inevitable

Hindsight makes me think it was inevitable. It didn't seem so over the years. The Carnival seems temporary. The
people who presented it's bands and the people who were passionate about the Carnival were insecure. There were
always rumors that City Hall wouldn't let it happen 'this year'...The physical incorporation of the Carnival in the
streets of Toronto was one with which the city Councilors and the organizers had to wrestle. Although the
discussions were always about the best routes for the parade, I like to think that the subtext was about how to
integrate a foreign cultural concept into a staid city... So continuous were the changes that now I can hardly
remember where most of the routes ended.

Adapting to each other

The continuous changing of the routes was important. I see that as an attempt by the city and the Carnival to adapt
 to each other. Toronto couldn't get the measure of parade that wasn't modeled on the Santa Claus Parade. The
 Carnival culture couldn't get accustomed to a city that restricted it to one measly day one measly route. ...Finally,
 it all came to land on the Lakeshore. On that route the band leaders finally got an extended distance to show off
 their creativity. The search for an appropriate route was part of the process of integration. I know it all sounds
terrible symbolic, but once an acceptable route was establish the culture of Carnival and the culture of the city
found confluence...This piece is from a Share publication special "Toronto International Carnival 2002."

Visit Share at:http://www.sharenews.com

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