Caribana a success despite strike, recession: Organizers
Web Staff, cp24.com
Published Sunday, August 2, 2009 7:02PM EDT
Weeks of Caribana festivities wrapped up Sunday at De Scotiabank Caribana Lime.
It featured all types of food, music, song, dance, theatrical drama and story telling. Steelpan drummers made their way all the way from Trinidad and Tobago to participate.
It was a way to wind down after Saturday's big parade, which drew thousands to the lakeshore.
The Caribana Lime was supposed to happen on Toronto Island but due to the uncertainty surrounding the civic strike, organizers moved the party to Ontario Place in case ferry service still wasn't up and running. It is the first time the Lime has been held on the mainland in almost 40 years.
The recession and strike impacted Caribana, but a spokesperson says the festival did its best to keep the party jumping.
"We're really watching our books. There's been no extra spending on our part, and a lot of suppliers are saying 'we want cash,'" said Stephen Weir.
With airlines cutting back on the number of flights from the Caribbean and U.S., the festival had to ramp up its advertising efforts while informing Americans of the new border passport requirements.
"We're spending a lot of money in the U.S. advertising, saying 'come up and also get a passport' so its been a double barreled marketing on our part," he said.
Organizers say it is too early to have confirmed numbers, but they suggest that this year's festival may have the biggest number of visitors in Caribana's 42 year history.
Caribana chair Joe Halstead says organizers were especially lucky this year with good weather, and the city and Via Rail strikes ending in the nick of time. But he says it's not the only reason the parade has remained so popular.
"People are investing in carnival arts as they see this as the way to build cohesion in our community, to get the culture much more spread in the City of Toronto," said Halstead.