Each year, at this time in Toronto, the city preps itself for one of the biggest festivals in North America. A huge celebration of Caribbean culture, the Caribana festival brings over a million visitors to the city of Toronto…and a lot of dollars come with them! As much money as Caribana generates for the city, however, it has not been able to hold on to its name.
In fact, Caribana is actually Caribana no more. As Hency Stancu of The Toronto Star reported a couple of months ago, the annual event is now known as Caribbean Carnival. Actually, it’s Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto, to be precise. Although Scotiabank has been sponsoring the festival for years, Stancu reports that the Caribana Arts Group (CAG) has rights to the name and they are no longer involved.
Nevertheless, revelers are no doubt still referring to the two-week long celebration as “Caribana”. “It doesn’t make any difference,” said one very excited Synergy rep earlier today, “It’s the same festival and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s an amazing celebration of Caribbean culture, costumes, food and music no matter what you call it.”
As it does every year, the big event culminates in the big parade on Lakeshore Boulevard in downtown Toronto this Saturday. Tonight, at Lamport Stadium, the King & Queen Show will kick off, where competitors will display their elaborate costumes in an attempt to name the new king and queen of Caribana…uh, we mean Caribbean Carnival.
Even though the Ontario Superior Court demanded the name change back in May, it is not expected to have any impact on the economic surge the festival gives Toronto, year in and year out. People from all over the world visit Toronto for the event helping for a big boost in business.
As Stancu writes, “In 2009, the festival attracted 1.2 million people, including 300,000 from outside the country, and helped fill 85 per cent of Toronto’s hotel rooms. That year, it generated $483 million for the provincial economy.” A lack of government grants last year forced the festival’s budget to decrease.
However, that makes no difference to those who participate in the event. “I play mas (dancing in the parade) every year,” exclaimed another of our team members, “It’s one of the most exciting days of the year for me. You get to wear a beautiful costume and dance in the streets of Toronto almost as if you were back in the islands. It’s great fun and a proud exhibition of our culture.”