Serita Sankar has a bucket list of things she’s aiming to accomplish before her 30th birthday in the next two years.
One of them was playing mas’ in the annual Toronto carnival parade which she did last Saturday.
She was inspired by her cousin Nicketa Balkissoon who is a three-time parade participant.
“I saw her do it one time and it looked like so much fun,” said Sankar. “I made a promise that I would join her here and we are having so much fun. This is great.”
The cousins were among thousands of revellers parading colourful and dazzling costumes for the judges and spectators in the 47th annual event.
Greater Toronto Area resident Nathaniel Davis and his girlfriend Okel London, who lives in Brooklyn, were also taking part in the revelry for the first time.
“I came to watch the event last year for the first time and it was so amazing that I decided I would take part this year,” London said. “In comparison to the Labour Day parade in Brooklyn, this is more fun, much safer and way more organized.”
The Caribbean’s contribution to Canada’s rich multicultural mosaic was showcased in a kaleidoscope of colour and glittering images at the parade.
“Being part of this for the first time last year brought me so much joy that I decided to come back again,” said Michelle Molubi whose parents were born in South Africa.
Married to a Trinidadian means that the Toronto carnival is an annual tradition for Canadian Tania Condo.
“I have been in the parade for the last 15 years and each time I have had a ball,” she said. “I love it.”
Condo played mas’ this year with Ottawa-based friends Alena Bharath who was back for a second time and Vanessa Hermans who was making her carnival debut.
“I have heard a lot of great things about this event and I am looking forward to having an exciting day,” said Hermans.
Joined by provincial Liberal caucus members Bas Balkissoon, Mitzie Hunter, Michael Coteau, Granville Anderson and Han Dong, Premier Kathleen Wynne joined several dignitaries at the ribbon cutting ceremony to launch this year’s parade.
“Remember this is about a celebration of one’s culture and who we are as Ontarians and Canadians,” she said. “As we are able to keep our own culture, so too are we able to weave a new Canadian culture. That’s what we are about. That’s what who we are in this country and this province and that’s what makes us strong.”
Councillor Joe Mihevc, the city’s liaison with the festival organizers, said the Toronto carnival is the premier event in the city’s annual calendar.
“We cannot imagine summer in the City of Toronto without the Caribbean carnival,” he said. “This speaks to who we are as a city and who we are as a culture of cultures.”
Just five of the nine bands participating were completely judged at the parade after police advised organizers of an impending storm. The judging was halted at around 3.15 p.m.