It's that time of year again in Toronto! The glorious costumes, music, food and people of the Caribbean are celebrated this weekend with the arrival of the annual Caribana parade. While various events have been taking place throughout the city for weeks – including tonight's King & Queen Competition at Lamport Stadium where massive, elaborate costumes will be on display for an audience of thousands to crown this year's king and queen of Caribana – this Saturday's parade marks the biggest celebration during the annual Caribbean festival.
The parade will also mark one of the biggest boosts in the local economy this year. Each year, visitors from all over the world visit Toronto for the Caribana parade to take in the exciting sights and sounds. Revellers and masqueraders in costumes of all types, representing the tradition of the Caribbean islands take over Lakeshore Boulevard in a vibrantly colourful parade with booming Calypso music as its soundtrack and non-stop dancing as its main activity.
Despite the nation's struggling economy and the ongoing garbage strike in Toronto, event organizers are confident that Caribana will continue to provide a boost to the local tourism trade.
Toronto Sun's Brett Clarkson spoke to Sam Lews, general manager of operations for Caribana, earlier this week. Lewis remarked that during tough economic times, most travellers will tend to drive instead of fly which suits common visitors from places such as New York, Detroit, Washington and Atlanta just fine.
In his article, “Caribana A Big Boost For Toronto”, Clarkson also notes that “about 1.3 million people attended the festival in one form or another last year” and that “the annual Caribbean festival, now in its 42nd year, pumps an estimated $300 million annually into the local economy.”
“It's common knowledge in the Toronto tourism industry that Caribana is one of the busiest weekends of the year for local hotels, if not the busiest,” writes Clarkson.
While a number of hotels in the downtown area have seen business slow down this year, with the garbage strike and the recession serving as primary factors, Lewis maintains that anyone looking for a hotel room in the city this weekend will have “their work cut out for them.”
Apparently, as over a million people flock to the Caribana parade to “jump up” this weekend, Toronto's economy will be doing the same.