It’s not every day people walking through the police headquarters lobby are greeted by the sounds of beating drums, music, colourful costumes and officers tapping their feet and clapping along.
If the atmosphere seemed a bit festive it was because the 22nd Annual Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Kick-Off ceremony was taking place Friday afternoon.
Sunlight streamed through the atrium and the natural light created a well-lit stage for the dancers of the United Caribbean Ensemble. Each dance performed by the ensemble was mean to be rooted in history for emancipation day, said Director of Entertainment for the group Tamara Garnes as she introduced the dancers.
As Deputy Chief Peter Sloly greeted the crowds gathered, he said that TPS Board Chair Alok Mukherjee thought the dances should be part of the police fitness program, to which Sloly replied saying there would be a need for ambulances if that was to happen.
“We can, and should, take pride in this Toronto legacy,” said Sloly. He said this year’s parade plan was more effective, economical and safer and that the TPS has worked closely with the community to ensure safety.
Sloly went on to say Caribana was launched 47 years ago, which was as long as he had been alive and that, for 25 of those years, he had worked at the TPS to make sure the festival was “bigger, better and safer.” He had the audience laughing when he said that, as a teenager, he was fascinated to see big, burly cops dancing at Caribana and this year he hoped to see the hashtag “cops can dance” trending on Twitter.
The city is ready to explode with pulsating rhythms and colourful and elaborate costumes on display.
"The city is ready to explode with pulsating rhythms and colourful and elaborate costumes on display," said John O’Dell of the Black Community Consultative Committee in his speech. O’Dell commended the TPS for their work with the community, saying “the police, like a fine wine, keep getting better and better.” He went on to thank Chief William Blair for his execution and commitment to diversity at TPS; “under him we have seen movement of minorities set on a course of success.”
Caribana is a time to enjoy “art, food, costume and music” added Mukherjee.
The dances and speeches were followed by the launch of the Toronto Police Services float which will be part of the parade tomorrow.