It was the perfect parade that the world will never see live. Beautiful people in costumes, soaring pan, word perfect Calypso. No gaps on Lakeshore Blvd. No arguments amongst the Mas Men. No stormers. No rain, thunder or lightning. Perfect, but, sigh, the city really misses you Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
“When you total up the viewers on all the different platforms from Twitch to Instagram to Facebook, we had 100,000 watching the Virtual Road Carnival on Saturday alone,” said Aneesa Oumarally, Chief Executive Officer of the Festival Management Committee. “The whole world did watch. We heard from (happy fans) in Atlanta, Cleveland and other great American cities who told us they are coming to Toronto next summer to be with us live.”
Ourmarally’s viewership numbers have been confirmed by CBC News, while some social media sites say when one takes into account reposts and site sharing, the 100,000 number is very conservative indeed.
Saturday’s Virtual Road was anchored on Zoom but was also streamed on most Social Media platform. The broadcast started at 9am live from Australia with DJ Fasmwa and Zoom room full of costumed revellers in their homes, dancing to the music.
When the Caribbean Camera logged onto Fasmawa’s show there were only 30 or so viewers. An inauspicious start but soon the number of viewers began to grow as the show moved on to Europe, Japan, the Caribbean, the U.S. and finally crossing the stage in Toronto!
The last two DJs on screen were Vince Gobind, (DJ Invincible International) and Dr. Jay (The Prince of Soca). Dr. Jay’s last song on the Virtual Road? Magic by Kes The Band featuring Trinidadian Jazz man Etienne Charles.
Along the way there were video interviews with the movers and shakers of the Carnival recorded by the Voice (CBC host Kevin Carrington). Videos from the Mas camps, Pan orchestras, Calypsonian and parade footage shot by videographer Anthony Berot all made it onto screen on Saturday.
Berot produced hours of content for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s online festival, which actually began back on July 3rd when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing the start of the digital Carnival 2020 and Mayor John Tory giving the official City Hall Proclamation of Toronto Caribbean Carnival Month.
Over the past four weeks there have been programming of Steelpan music, live Calypso performances, a virtual King and Queen competition, and a Junior Parade, all culminating in Saturday’s Virtual Parade.
“All those assets – Kevin’s interviews, Anthony’s shows, videos that people sent in – are on our website,” said Oumarally. “We hope to be back on the Lakeshore next summer, but, if we have to do it again next year, we have a roadmap to follow.”
Working with a very small team the FMC put together an online show that spanned the Globe. Of course there were technical and content problems with a few of the FMC presentations, but, given the breadth of the programming, that was to be expected.
The Caribbean Camera gives it an A. Why not A+? The major complaints we heard were from women viewers. To quote well-known actress Rhoma Spencer, there was "too much tits, asses and crotches".