TSWT PHOTOS: Toronto’s Caribana a Celebration of Freedom

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TORONTO (TSWT) — Caribana. A celebration of freedom.

feathers. glitter. Decadent floats. Bubbly music.

The lively masquerade at Toronto’s Carnival Festival is much more than a visual delight. It’s a celebration of freedom — of liberation and exuberance that has never been more necessary than two years after the event’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The return of the 55th annual parade offers much-needed relief to Toronto’s Caribbean immigrant community, who rejoice, reconnect and remember emancipation from slavery in extravagant plumage on their streets.

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In major cities around the world, tens of thousands of revelers take to the streets for Carnival celebrations. Toronto, for its part, has its parade on what the Canadian government recognizes as Emancipation Day weekend, the first Saturday in August commemorating the day slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1834.

The participants hammering rhythms on hundreds of steel pans and carefully crafting the feathered costumes describe the parade as a fundamental life-affirming event, a completely sensory experience.

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“For the new generations of Trinidad, the carnival is a reminder of where they come from,” Thadel Wilson, a steelpand drummer, told The The Switzerland Times. “The Caribbean Carnival is for everyone, a day to celebrate the positives in your life and let go of the negatives.”

Some 10,000 costumed festival-goers took over the exhibit area on Toronto’s central Lake Shore Boulevard, transforming the site into a kaleidoscope of feathered wings and bejeweled headdresses of every color imaginable.

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The city was buzzing – literally. The soca-soaked bass shook the ground. Drums rang. Families and friends reunited after years of pandemic restrictions. And peacocking performers sauntered along the boulevard to the beat of the music.

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