Caribana (aka Carnival) Days

Caribana (aka Carnival) Days

caribana parade 2009
caribana parade 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s the Civic long weekend here and another year of Caribana or Carnival is winding down. If you’ve never been, it’s a fun experience with lots of music, food and dancing…A LOT OF DANCING! The parties are non-stop and people from different countries travel here just to get a taste of all that this cultural explosion has to offer.

Almost anyone of Caribbean or African descent that has grown up in Canada (especially Ontario) can tell you about their experience as a teenager and young adult and the excitement behind Caribana. The name has changed but the concept is the same, and Carnival is still a very exciting time in the GTA.

It happens on the first weekend in August and meant that you were probably prepping since mid-July. What outfits were you going to wear? There were parties usually starting Thursday night straight through until Monday and there was no way you could be caught wearing the same outfit on 2 nights….seriously? Then there was the question of what to wear on Saturday which is the day of the parade. For us girls, it had to be cute, it had to be short and it had to be tight! Guys would have nice sneakers on that would most definitely be ruined by the end of the day. Girls were getting their hair and nails done and the guys were getting their hair cut.

Then we made our way impatiently downtown to join in the festivities. Before the parade starts costumes are judged and King and Queen of the Carnival are chosen. The bands spend up to a year planning and creating all of the beautiful costumes and floats that will take part in the celebrations.

Before the route of the parade was changed, the public was allowed to join the parade and we would ‘jump up’ and dance with all the participants in their very skimpy but colorful costumes and run, walk and dance beside the floats where the liveliest music would be playing. Calypso, Soca and Reggae would keep you moving for hours.

It seemed to us girls that all the cutest guys from the U.S. were there on that one weekend and all they had to do was say hi with an American accent and we were on cloud nine. It never occurred to you at the time that they were collecting phone numbers like Canada Post collected the mail. Canadian guys caught on, and those of them that could, would try to put on their best ‘Yankee’ accent in order to get some ‘attention’.

There were food vendors cooking their best rendition of authentic West Indian food and the lines were always ridiculous.

When the weather was good, you would always see revelers with towels in their pockets or around their necks because with all that dancing, you were bound to lose five pounds in perspiration.

It’s a great experience for young and old. But when you’re young it seems like one of the best times of your life.

I’m sure my girls will want to experience this wonderful cultural festival with the music, dancing and partying with boys.


Yeah….now that I think about it, the whole thing is totally overrated.

P.S. have you seen the kind of dancing that goes on at those things?

I’m just sayin….



Do you ever notice how we project our fears onto our children? We want them to grow and experience new things, but at the same time we hold on to them and try to protect them from ‘getting hurt’. Sometimes we hold on so tight that we deprive them from learning and experiencing exactly what we thought would be good for them in the first place.


Being a parent is sometimes such balancing act.

I’ve decided to enrol Diva girl in French Immersion for grade 1 and although I know it will be a good opportunity for her, I am nervous about how she will feel since she will have to change schools. What about all her friends? Will she have problems making new ones? What if she can’t adjust? The school is further away (not five minutes away), what if something happens on the way there; on the way home…?

There’s that ‘what if’ problem again!

But you know what I realized? I was the shy kid in school. I was the kid who hated trying to make new friends. Diva girl is not like me in that sense. Yes, she does like to belong…but who doesn’t. She is definitely more outgoing than I am and people are very drawn to her. When I introduce myself to other parents whether it was at daycare or now at school, they almost always say “Ooooh you’re Diva girl’s mom! I hear about her all the time!”

There was even one parent whose twin girls named their dolls after her!

So, I’ve done my homework and made sure that the school is a good one and so is the neighbourhood. It really isn’t that far away (fifteen minutes at the most) and with a deep breath and a prayer I will be registering her for French Immersion for next year. Yikes!

It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing…..