This weekend was the 47th Annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival, or better known as The Caribana Parade. The parade is a stylish, high-energy street festival which celebrates Caribbean culture. Thousands of people of every shape, size, age and colour jump, wave and dance or “play mas” in decked out colourful and bold costumes. The process involved in making the costumes is a huge creative project which involves a lot of planning, detail and creativity. I usually play mas but this year I attended as a spectator. Seeing all the beautiful costumes and creativity gave me a lot of inspiration for new DIYs. I’m excited to share my pictures from the 2014 Caribana parade.
The event is near and dear to me as both my parents are from Trinidad which is where the colourful tradition started. Mas bands (the people who make the costumes) prepare a year in advance. Each band comes up with a overall theme for their costumes which is then broken up into different sections. Some of the larger bands can have 20 different sections with up to 100 individual mas players!
The costumes in each section will have the same color scheme and appearance. Mas band workers and volunteers spend many hours sewing, gluing and applying decorations like jewels, glitter, sequins and feathers. Participants who want to play mas have to pay for their costumes. Each costume is then fitted for each individual in the band. The costumes do not only have to look beautiful, they have to be durable and adjustable so they can fit many different sizes while people move and dance.
There is also some construction and welding involved in the process. Each band has a “King” and “Queen” member who wears a large elaborate costume made with light materials like aluminum. The King and Queen costumes are built on wheels that are pulled by a mas player. The day of the Caribana parade the costumes and themes are judged by judges who at the end choose a winner.
The Caribana parade is full of culture that you can taste, see and, hear. There are many Caribbean dishes to enjoy. I got a chicken roti which I devoured. Soca, calypso, and reggae music are played for mas players and spectators to dance to and enjoy.
I was a bit sad that I missed out on playing mas this year because it’s so much fun, but there’s always next year! I definitely didn’t jump and wave as much as I did when I played mas but I enjoyed taking in the festivities and food.
Which street festival is your favorite to attend?