Tuesday 6 April 2021

The First Lap: Keeping the Carnival Alive

 First Lap Won’t Be Canada’s Last Lap - It All Happens This Sunday 

Reveller's Mas Costume Model on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Catwalk 

By Stephen Weir / photographs courtesy of Toronto Carnival. What’s in a name these days?  For followers of the carnival arts, the moniker First Lap: Keeping the Carnival Alive presented by Carib Beer speaks long and loudly of the reemergence of the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival traditions and all of its moving parts.

(Macomere Fifi right)

Coming to a cell phone, tablet and computer near you will be a taped gathering of the Mas Bands. You will see the launch of new Mas Band costumes, the sweet sounds of Soca star David Rudder (i.e. King David), a performance by Dance Caribe and the best in Canadian style Pan Music.


The 2021 First Lap is a professionally shot feature length programme that will soon be aired in Toronto and the Caribbean. It happens this Sunday evening (April 11).  For 90 minutes the Toronto’s top carnival models will be showing for the first time this carnival season costumes from six Toronto Mas Camps.

(Tribal Carnival model right)

“ We have been working on the First Lap online show for the past two weeks,” explained Digital Imaging Technology manager Anthony Berot. 

Using a seasoned crew and broadcast quality cameras, the show was filmed over two days on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage (Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto), explained Berot.  

That was before the latest round of Covid restrictions were dropped. The broadcast crew made sure that all the guidelines were followed and that everyone stayed safe.

(Mas K Camp Model at right)

The First Lap: Keeping the Carnival Alive will air free on April 11th on the Festival’s website (www.torontocarnival.ca) and on the Festival’s FaceBook, YouTube and Twitch accounts.  As well Trinidad’s Wack Radio (a popular Caribbean online Radio/Television station dedicated to promoting the music and culture of Trinidad and Tobago) will be streaming the show on Sunday at 7pm.

All-star Pan Orchestra on stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

The actual nuts and bolts of putting this show together was handled by three veterans producers of the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade - Wendy Jones, Kwesi Thomas, and Adrian Charles.

David Rudder on stage left

The Toronto Carnival has already posted a 3-minute First Lap video tease on Facebook. Narrated by SKF the Champ, (DJ Sheldon K Francis); he introduces the models from Louis Saldenah’s Mas K Camp, Epic Carnival, Tribal Carnival, Venom Carnival,  Carnival Nationz and NBA great Jamaal Magloire and his Revellers.

Epic Model on Stage Wearing Carnival Mas Costume


Interspaced between the costume reveals, SKF introduces international Soca star David Rudder and his band. Performing as well are two top Calypsonian singers – Connecter (Joel Davis) and Macomere Fifi (Eulith Tara Banks) as well as a Pan all-star band drawing in musicians from the Ontario SteelPan Association 

(Carnival Nationz Mas Model left)

It is the First Lap programme -- the precursor to more carnival events online and live in 2021.  Mas Bandleader Louis Saldenah recently spoke to the media about carnival activities this summer.  He and his fellow leaders are hoping to do lots more this year but they are watching closely what the Province of Ontario is doing in terms of Covid restrictions on public events in 2021.

Calypso singer Connector performs on First Lap

The festival is secondary to people’s health and controlling the coronavirus, he told the Toronto Star and other online news outlets. “Dead people can’t participate in a parade.”

First Lap: Keeping the Carnival Alive Presented by Carib show is already to roll this Sunday,” said Anthony Berot. “There are many different platforms that will be airing the programme. If people miss the 7pm airing or want to see it again, check out the www.torontocarnival.ca website. We will have it up and running during the month of April.”