Caribbean Carnival Parade
A couple of high profile shootings in Toronto appeared to have put a slight chill over the city's annual Caribbean carnival this year, festivalgoers and vendors said on Saturday.
Although the centrepiece parade boasted the usual vivid display of colours and pageantry, there appeared to be fewer spectators, said those came out to watch the spectacle and police officers who were handling security.
July's shooting rampage at a community barbeque and June's shooting at Toronto's Eaton Centre were on the minds of those who did come out.
``I'm feeling happy but not too safe,'' said Michael Messoom, a forklift operator who originally hails from Trinidad, who admitted he was worried about the recent streak of shootings.
The shooting at the barbecue killed two people and wounded nearly two dozen while two died in the shooting at the Eaton Centre.
Despite beefed up security at this year's event, safety concerns might have kept people at home, said Messoom, who attends the festival every year.
``Looking at the crowd it's a little small,'' he said, a sentiment that was echoed by police officers, vendors and people who have attended the event in previous years.
Police, volunteers and private security guarded entrances to the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival, patting people down and searching bags before they entered.
A network of barricades and fences kept the public back from the dancers with glitter-dusted skin and colourful headdresses as they made their way down Toronto's Lakeshore Blvd.
``There's so much fences that I can't hardly see anything,'' said Ann James, a nurse from Bloomfield, CT., who was trying to find her way to the end of the parade route.
Still, pounding soca music generally left other attendees in a good mood as they waved Caribbean flags and bandannas.
``Today is a day of merriment and happiness in the Caribbean community,'' said Asker Jones, who came from Montreal for the parade.
The festival formerly known as Caribana and touted as the largest Caribbean culture in North America, has had a history of troubles over the years.
Last year, a 30-year-old man from Scarborough was killed and two other people were injured in a shooting that took place along the parade's route.
Toronto police chief Bill Blair announced last week that an additional 456 officers would be freed up to patrol the city's downtown core during the parade.
The parade has closed these stretches of road until Sunday at 6am:
-Lake Shore Blvd W, between Strachan Ave & Colborne Lodge Dr
-Ramp from the eastbound Gardiner to Jameson Ave
-Ramps from British Columbia Dr & Jameson Ave to the eastbound Gardiner
-Ramp from the westbound Gardiner to Dunn Ave