Tens of thousands of people gathered near Toronto’s waterfront Saturday for one of the city's largest - and most colourful - celebrations of the year.

The Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s grand parade is taking over a 3.5-kilometre stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard West, as thousands of costumed revellers and several steel band orchestras entertain thousands of spectators along the route.

Now in its 46th year, the grand parade is the three-week festival’s marquee event, drawing participants and spectators from all over.

To pulsating rhythms and melodies, organizers expected 16,000 people to dance along the parade route in colourful costumes adorned with jewels and feathers in what they say is the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America.

Twelve masquerade (mas) bands are participating.

Former NBA player Jamaal Magloire acted as the band leader for the Toronto Revellers.

“The reason why I’m involved ... is because it’s another way of giving back, giving back to the people who gave so much to me during my career,” Magloire, a Torontonian, told CP24 reporter Nneka Elliott.

Road closures in effect

Meanwhile, there are a number of road closures in effect to accommodate the parade.

The westbound lanes of Lakeshore Boulevard are shut down from Strachan Avenue to Parkside Drive, and the eastbound lanes are closed from Colborne Lodge Drive to Strachan Avenue.

Lake Shore Boulevard is not expected to fully reopen until the parade ends Saturday evening.

The parade is also responsible for the closures of these Gardiner Expressway ramps, which will remain closed until the conclusion of the parade:

  • The eastbound Gardiner Expressway exit to Jameson Avenue
  • The Jameson Avenue entrance ramp to the eastbound Gardiner Expressway
  • The British Columbia Road entrance ramp to the eastbound Gardiner Expressway
  • The westbound Gardiner Expressway exit to Dunn Avenue.

In addition to the road closures, there will also be a number of streets with restrictions to vehicles, including:

  • Dufferin Street, south of King Street West
  • Dowling Avenue, south of King Street West
  • Stadium Road, south of Lake Shore Boulevard West
  • Queen's Quay West, west of Bathurst Street
  • Springhurst Avenue, west of Jameson Avenue
  • Springhurst Avenue, east of Jameson Avenue

With so many people in the city for the event, the festival is a huge money-maker for hotels, restaurants and clubs.

The overall economic impact is said to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mayor Rob Ford said the carnival is an ideal way to showcase Toronto's diversity.

“This is great for tourism, it creates a lot of jobs and it’s great for the economy, and most importantly it’s great for the people," Ford told CP24. "The people have a really fun time and let their hair down and have a good party.”

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