Carifiesta’s 40th anniversary non-celebration
Our once majestic Caribbean parade that provoked excitement and unbridled passion in our community and across North America has of late been a shadow of its once spectacular self.
Today the thing they call Carifiesta, is in its 40th year. And what should have been a milestone celebration to mark four decades of Caribbean cultural offerings in a city with an unquenchable thirst for festivities seems to be little more than an annoyance to those who will be disturbed by its presence.
In the hands of an inward-looking few, little about the parade has changed over the past four or five years, except for the fact that it now shares centre stage on St. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Santa Claus Parade and other events that have become institutions in the city.
It’s idiotic to compare today’s raggedy little drive-by event to the glamour days when Roots, Caribbean Spectacular, Hawks, Four Kings and A Queen, Trinidad & Tobago Costume Designers Association, West Island Chippers, Lodge Brothers filled the streets with thousands of revelers and what’s called mas.
A time when mas-men and bandleaders such as Patrick Robinson, Walter Elliot, Dave Marshall, Victor St. Martin, Lenore Catterson, Steve Payne, Mickey Julien, showcased the creativity and splendor of masquerade that, when mixed with music, make carnival one of life’s most intoxicating experiences.
Those days are long gone; Roots might be the one real costumed masquerade band left in the parade, even as they “catch their nennen” trying to entice more than a few dozen masqueraders to join them.
And the always-effervescent Lodge Brothers Band has been nudged out of the parade due to its exorbitant registration fee.
So what we’re left with is a mish mash of little bands punctuated by empty trucks and a hedonistic display of triteness and oft-times slackness that really is a caricature of carnival.
As said before, it’s foolhardy “back in the day” to today to compare because so much in our community has changed.
But it does not have to be like this because we still have a lot of capable individuals among us with the skill and talent to design, build and fashion a parade that we can once again be proud of.
All they need is encouragement and a little financial help that would not total more than $90,000, which any functional organization should be able to raise in a few months.
Obviously the Caribbean Cultural Festivities Association, which coordinates the Carifiesta is anything but functional.
What it comes down to is yet another stain on the community for allowing this long-held institution that brought us so much pride and joy to remain high jacked and stagnant in the hands of a clique of visionless individuals whose sole intent is to pretend.
In the end, it’s just a little parade and not the repository of any real power or influence; but there are those who, in the past as they are today, see it as a place to show themselves and titillate their egos.
And for the most part these little ego maniacs are ignored, which of course is what really sad about Carifiesta today. It has come so that people are no longer disappointed in its stagnancy or lacklustreness. They just don’t give a shyte.
Still, more so than any other parade, Carifiesta has all the elements to make the masses have a wail of a time…. the soca, calypso, jabmusic, regaae and other genres mixed with spicy food and drinks that make you tipsy.
So on Saturday, July 4, it will draw thousands to the streets of downtown Montreal, including hopefully, a full compliment of hotfooted visitors from other cities, still hoping for a taste of a true Black and Caribbean parade.
Sadly the spectacle that’s being presented to them now just a nuisance to City officials, the police, storekeepers, shoppers and other Montrealers trying to go about their business amidst the noise and the silliness.
But the organizers will never kbow this, they’re too busy liking themselves. That’s what called old ‘mas