Nearly one hundred masqueraders in colorful costumes took over Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday for the official launch of Peeks Toronto Caribbean carnival 2017.
Dancing to a torrid calypso beat, the mas’ players came from no fewer than eleven bands which will hit the streets on August 5 for the grand parade of the carnival, formerly known as Caribana, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
An estimated 10,000 masqueraders are expected in the parade this year, according to Gerard Weekes, the parade operations manager.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Mayor John Tory announced a City of
Toronto grant to the festival of $625,000.
” I am pleased to confirm today the City of Toronto as the largest government supporter of the Caribbean carnival,” he said.
Tory noted that “what started as a centennial project – a gift if you will – by and from a handful of committed Canadians who had come from the islands of the Caribbean, has grown to be one of Toronto’s signature summer events, attracting over a million people to our city. ”
Describing the Toronto Caribbean carnival as “the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America, ” the mayor recalled the days “when a modest- sized parade wound down University avenue, until the success of the event required that the organizers ‘go big.'”
Councillor Joe Mihevc praised the festival for its celebration of diversity and for its massive economic and cultural impact on the city.
Large groups of people gathered under a blazing sun to witness the launching of the carnival.
Peeks Social Limited, a social media and tech company based in Toronto, is the main corporate sponsor of this year’s rebranded Toronto Caribbean carnival.
According to a news release from the organizers of the festival, this event “engages the three stakeholder groups”: Toronto Mas’ Bands Association, Organization of Calypso Performing Artists and the Ontario Steelpan Association.
Among the major events planned for the festival are the Junior King and Queen showcase (July 16),the King and Queen contest (August 3) and Pan Alive( August 4).