Thousands wine up and wave at Caribana carnival
Thousands gathered in downtown Toronto on Saturday to take in the sea of colours and the rhythmic beats that make up the city's annual Caribana parade.
The sun was beaming throughout the day as Torontonians and tourists from all over the world attended one of the city's most popular outdoor parties.
The festivities kicked off early Saturday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Peter Kent, minister of state of foreign affairs and federal NDP leader Jack Layton.
But it was the intricate and grandiose constumes that caught everybody's attention.
Some costumes needed the help of wheels to move along the parade route as they reached about five metres in height. Skimpy costumes ordained with beads and feather headdresses were also popular among the 15,000 participants who shimmied their way down the parade route on Lake Shore Boulevard..
Layton and his wife, MP Olivia Chow, got into the spirit and dressed in multicolour outfits dancing along to the thumping Soca music.
However, some revellers said they angry about the latest addition to the parade -- a seven-foot high fence that blocked in observers at the side of the road. In some sections the fence measured 12-feet high.
"It's like we're in jail," said one unhappy guest.
Several people were seen trying to climb on top of chairs to get a better view.
One woman who said it was her first time at the parade said she was disappointed because she wasn't able to take good pictures because of the fence.
"If they keep doing this I don't think they're going to get much people coming ever year," she said.
At one point, spectators managed to unlink a section of the fence and hundreds began pouring into the parade route until police managed to get the crowd back under control.
Caribana, a week-long celebration feting Caribbean culture, attracts visitors from all over the U.S. as well as the Caribbean islands. The parade typically brings in about one million people to the city, giving a significant boost to the Toronto's economy.
"They come here for a long period of time and spend money on bars, supplies, costumes...it's a lot more than just paying for a hotel room," said Caribana organizer Stephen Weir about the event's financial contribution to the city.
Toronto Tourism has made promoting Caribana a priority this year, spending $417,000 to market the event in the U.S.
The festival has had some dark moments over the years. In 2003, Terrence R. Ali was beaten to death hours after attending the parade.
His mother Moonie Ali participated in the Caribana parade this year by riding in a Crime Stoppers car, taking advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness for the victims of violence.