Playin' Mas, Play and Mas | A Pedagogical Journey of Children in Caribana

The places and spaces children occupied during Caribana from 1970 to 1974


A simple Internet search "Kids in Caribana" will undoubtedly bring the reader to photos of cute bejeweled children and newspaper articles covering the annual  Junior Carnival parade.   While accurate, the "Kiddie Parade" fails to capture the full extent of the ways children engaged in the festival. Since its inception in 1967 children have always been a part of Caribana, as organizers have always crafted  events directed at children to ensure they were immersed in Caribbean culture.  Limbo contests, story telling, arts and crafts and musical concerts took place in the St. Lawrence centre and on Centre Island were some of the more structured and popular modes of cultural transmission. Hence, the Kiddies Parade, as it occurs presently in Scarborough, is a later incarnation of how organizers and parents transmitted their heritage to children. 

This photographic essay illuminates the various spaces and places children occupied during Caribana prior to the large and organized Kiddies Carnival parade. The photos demonstrate that children both received and transmitted Caribbean culture through three locations: On the 'fixed' stage as competitive performers or ceremonial ambassadors, on the 'moving' stage of the main road as masqueraders or costumed accompaniments to adults, and finally on the 'side' road, without costumes but as wide eyed spectators. 

On de fixed stage - competitors 

On the fixed stage, children either were cultural ambassadors for the opening ceremonies, or competed for the title of Junior King or Queen of Caribana. Often times they did this to large audience with press, public officials as well as their family and friends in attendance. 

On de moving stage - masqueraders 

Although children often occupied the fixed stage as ambassadors or competitors, they also accompanied their parents on the moving stage - the grand parade, as masqueraders -- appendages to their parents costume.  It was in the parade that their tiny hands were held tightly by their parents as they took in the sounds, smells, tastes and sights of Caribana. In their costumes, they often posed for photos, or had their photos taken, but from within the parade they are also taking new perspectives, looks and behaviours of the adults that surround them. Hence, as they moved they absorbed and exuded cultural traditions. 

Along de road side - spectators

The location that most children absorbed the Caribana parade from was along the roadside, in parks or behind fences, or on trucks as keen but often unseen spectators

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