#72 – Caribana belongs in Toronto.

Babel had Caribfest this past weekend. Caribfest is supposed to be the same as Caribana in Toronto. It is not. I am not at all sure that what I witnessed this weekend should take place in Babel.

Caribana is a joyous festival in which all Torontonians can participate. When living in Toronto, we found we could enjoy the food, the culture and the music of the islands of the Caribbean throughout the year and especially at Caribana. And what Canadian does not appreciate those beautiful islands that can offer much needed respite from the brutality of our winters?

But Babel lacks the cultural and racial mix of Toronto. Old Babel is old Ontario and is mainly European in origin. The visual minorities are just that: minorities. Somebody asked the other day, since we were having Caribfest, if Babel has a large population from the Caribbean? The answer was: no, we have to import them.

And that might be the problem. From our front row seats above Centennial Park, we settled in on Saturday to watch the parade that started in the downtown. The music was raucous, the crowds enthusiastic and colourful and the parking along the Lakeshore was unimaginably more chaotic than it had been for Kempenfest two weeks earlier. It took a while to realize what was wrong.

The first clue was the very noisy announcers below us who were working their sound system from the back of a van. While it was hard to understand through the announcers’ accents and the way the sound was bouncing, we finally realized that they were broadcasting for Toronto’s new black radio station.

The area around that van was probably not planned by that radio station. It was one very large and noisy tailgate party. It was a party with none of the facilities needed to accommodate the thousands of people involved. Instead of parking and then going across to the very attractive park area with all its facilities on the east side of Lakeshore, this part of the party was mainly on the road and among the helter-skelter of parked cars on the west side of the road.

The organizers and the city had failed to work out the logistics. And, while economists say that the anticipated earnings for the local community for events can be worked out at so much per attendee, nobody was making any money in this situation. These partygoers brought their own music, their own food, their own liquor and their own entertainment. They failed to bring their own toilets, garbage receptacles and good manners.

Quite frankly, these visitors to our beautiful city acted as though they had never been housebroken. It was as though their parents had never taught them that, when invited to a party, you do not defecate on the hosts’ front lawn. You should not throw liquor bottles and trash around with abandon. Gentlemen should not go into the bushes, below where people live, to wag their weenie. They might consider it discrete for the people around them but from above they do not appear very shy about the process.

There is no point in shouting down to them. Despite the dazzling performances of the bands and dancers out on the road being much appreciated, the performance of the revellers in the parking lot did not win universal approval.

From where we were, we saw only a few thousand of the people attending the event. Most were having fun and if there was some littering out on the road, the city had it swept up in short order. It was only a few people who disrespected us as residents and forced us inside to control our anger at their bad manners. Regrettably, the city and the organizers need to seriously rethink their attempt at bringing Caribana to Babel.

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