By RON FANFAIR
Standing on the sidelines watching his wife play mas’ in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival was no longer an option for Anthony McDowel.
He donned a costume and joined her and thousands of revellers at the 49th annual parade last Saturday.
The couple reside in Tampa, Florida.
“This is my third time taking part and I just love it,” said Ashley McDowel, a human resources benefit manager. “This is the best.”
Miami resident, Alfred Coleman, was also a first-time participant in the parade.
“My best friend, who lives in Toronto, invited me to be part of the festivities and I accepted the offer,” said Coleman who was born in the United States to Haitian immigrants. “I just love the colour, vibes and energy here.”
Coleman played mas’ with Carnival Nationz which won its eighth Band of the Year title in its 12-year history.
This year’s theme was “The Nest”.
“I am a bird lover, so I love this theme,” said Joella Crichton who captured her sixth straight Queen of the Band crown and eighth in the last nine years.
A York University fine arts degree graduate, Crichton who has been playing mas’ with Carnival Nationz, briefly contemplated not defending her crown.
The thought, however, was short-lived.
“Why give up when you are on top and having fun?” concluded Crichton who was recently cast in “West Bay”, a marine life series that has been selected for this year’s Caribbean Tales Film Festival’s (CTFF) eighth annual incubator program. “I would still go to the camp and make costumes, so I might as well take part and continue to have fun.”
Shane Reid Mungal has won the King of the Band title every year since joining Carnival Nationz in 2011 while Corey Joseph was the Male Individual Award winner.
Teenager Celena Seusahai of Tribal Carnival prevented a Carnival Nationz sweep at the King and Queen competition last Thursday night, capturing the Female Individual Award ahead of Jamaican-born Carol Tannis of Carnival Nationz.
“I have been playing mas’ since age two and this is what I love to do,” said Seusahai, the daughter of mas’ band leader, Dexter Seusahai. “Winning makes it better.”
Pan Fantasy, meanwhile, celebrated its 30th anniversary in style with its fifth consecutive Pan Alive title last Friday night.
“It’s fulfilling every time you win, but this victory is sweet because it was a very competitive event and we had several players who were competing for the first time,” said the band’s co-founder, Wendy Jones.
Pan Fantasy performed Kerwin Dubois’ “Unforgettable”.