It’s carnival morning! Some of us wake up early, get ready and head down to the Radisson Hotel at the Harbour Front to get our makeup done. It is a very cool start to the day weather wise and I am hoping that it will get warmer. I think I must have annoyed my other friends who were still trying to sleep but I was so excited! Like a young child waking up on Christmas morning! We leave some of the others behind. They will catch up with us later.
The make up process is extremely structured (various individuals at different stations doing various bits of your make-up). I love the final result! We head off to the starting point for our band Saldenah at the CNE Exhibition Centre. I have to say this. I had serious costume issues in the section I played with. As the band is so large, each section leader takes full responsibility for the production and delivery of costumes. However, Aaron Saldenah and his immediate family were extremely responsive and did every thing in their power to ensure that I had my costume ready for the day. The next time round I will definitely be Jumping in Aaron Saldenah or Dr Jay’s sections as everything in their sections seemed to go very smoothly. The above being said, when I did finally get my full costume, I loved it! Many many thanks Aaron!
This band is huge! Four trucks and at mas camp I heard Saldenah consisted of over 3600 masqueraders! By this time, the weather had warmed up a bit and it was a nice day! Not cool and not so hot that it made jumping uncomfortable. I start to wander around trying to capture as many costumes as possible. And I’ve learnt that on carnival day? Everyone LOVES having their picture taken. So I get many images of Saldenah costumes and a few of Toronto Revellers who were just ahead of us.
We start on the route at about 10? 10:30? There was loads of freedom of movement on the route and for the most part it did not feel claustraphobic. Masqueraders I have to say were really friendly on the road. I didn’t meet any stooshy ones. Everyone was just out to have a good time! Security was not really visible, they were there but their presence did not feel overwhelming. Like I said before, Saldenah had four trucks all playing different types of soca (sub genres and ages) from what I can hear. Each section had their own designated food truck and there were quite a few beverages trucks. The stewards and some of the sections leaders were amazing ensuring we remain hydrated with loads of water. Now in terms of alcohol, in our little crew, we had our own supply. But I am not sure that was the same for every masquerader. And they seemed to be having an amazing time without the alcohol. So what we have in Toronto is most masqueraders really enjoying carnival without the alcoholic assist. And that was really nice to see. Crossing the stage was great!! With Dr Jay giving a countdown, we were all let loose on the stage showing off the costumes and trying to impress the judges as much as we can.
The rest of my friends finally catch up with us as they left late. And it was good to have all of us on the road. We took loads of pics of each other and enjoyed being on the road. Funny how the carnival community works as I see one of my favourite photographers from Notting Hill Carnival Shawn Hicks on the road taking pics! We were both shocked at bumping into each other at Caribana as I am from England and he is from the US. But carnival has a way of doing that. At one point, later on the route, there were quite a few stormers in the band enjoying the music and trying to tief a wine and so we passed through a high fence.
And in a blink, it was done! It felt like a very short route! It must have been done by 6? I think? Can’t quite remember the time. We all walked to the main road, grabbed a taxi which quoted us a ridiculous price just to travel for a short journey. But when I am holiday, especially at the end of a carnival day and I am tired? I just want to get to where I am going with no drama.
So did I enjoy the Caribana Carnival day? I must say I did! The weather was nice (trust me, for a Londoner, the state of the weather on carnival day is always a talking point). For me, Saldenah as a band on the whole were extremely organised and attentive to their masqueraders needs on the route. I didn’t try the food on the route as I was not overly hungry and I don’t think my friends did either. The music was good and our costumes remained fully intact despite various vigorous antics. I met loads of really nice masqueraders on the road who I am sure I will bump into at some other carnival. Carnival Day done. Next up, boat cruise.