Deputy Chief Mike Federico put the final piece of the puzzle on the Toronto Police Caribbean Carnival Festival float, unleashing a jump-up celebration in front of police headquarters on the eve of the Grand Parade.
The float, Where the World Connects, designed and painted by youth and built by the Carpenters’ Union, was unveiled on College St. in front of police headquarters courtyard that became a dance party. Police and Auxiliary officers joined Youth In Policing Initiative students in a conga line fed by the music of the Omega Band.
Deputy Chief Federico said the Service has participated in the parade for the past 25 years, thanks to retired Staff Inspector Colin Woodcock, who spearheaded the initiative to build the first float.
“We would not be here participating in the parade but for Colin’s contribution, his foresight, his vision and I wanted to acknowledge it,” Federico said, of the 84-year-old who was unable to attend the kickoff event. “I know Colin would be honoured to be recognized but also to represent the men and women of the Toronto Police Service because what he did was on behalf of the Service and the community.”
Federico acknowledged the work of everyone involved in planning for the Service’s float and also in creating a safe event.
“For showcasing the best that Toronto has to offer, for establishing a place for people who really want to come, live and enjoy. It’s the safest and most livable large city, I would say, in the world, but certainly North America, and we can all take pride in that, not just Toronto Police.”
Festival Management Committee Chief Administrative Officer Chris Armstrong acknowledged the work of the police in making the Festival safe by working as partners, specifically pointing to Superintendents Frank Bergen and Neil Corrigan.
“If you look and you see Toronto’s a diverse city and we all participate in the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, an amazing event every year, and I’m proud to be part of it,” he said.
“These young people are the future of what we’re doing here,” he said, noting they will take over the work in time. “We’re glad you’re here and participating.”
Mayor John Tory noted that the festival is a great representation of Toronto’s rich ethnic diversity.
“We have welcomed and they have enriched our city, people from all over the world. The Caribbean community, has grown and flourished and has made so many contributions in so many areas of life to our city,” said Tory, noting he met visitors from Trinidad, where the roots of Carnival can be traced back. “Today we have the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America.”
Mayor Tory said Carnival is much more than a great economic and tourist contributor to the city.
“This is a major economic contribution to life in our city. But what I think is more important is what it says to us, inside the city of Toronto, and the way we celebrate and embrace diversity and how we celebrate our differences as opposed to leaving them as something that divides us.
Toronto Police Services Board member Councillor Chin Lee said it is a special weekend for the city.
“The Caribbean Carnival Festival is first and foremost the celebration of the cultural heritage of the people of the Caribbean and is also a celebration of the vitality, richness and colourfulness of the kaleidoscope that is our city and our country,” Lee said.
Toronto Breakfast Club founder Rick Gosling and Carpenter’s Union representative Chris Campbell thanked the police for partnering with them to create a float every year and acknowledged the work of Constable Isabelle Cotton in organizing the police participation and Procter’s Cartage for driving the float.