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41st edition of Carifiesta brought Caribbean vibes to downtown Montreal

WATCH ABOVE: A taste of Caribbean carnivals was on display in downtown Montreal Saturday afternoon, as thousands took in the annual Carifiesta parade. As Sarah Volstad reports, not even the weather could put a damper on this party.

MONTREAL — Despite rain, wind and cool temperatures, Ste. Catherine Street West was the fieriest place to be in Montreal this Saturday.

“It’s definitely representing what’s going on in the Caribbean,” said Jeffrey Craigg, who took part in the event as he proudly represented his home country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “That’s what this is all about: bringing the Caribbean to Montreal, to Canada.”

In its 41st edition, the annual Carifiesta parade was as vibrant as ever.

“This is our culture, this is us,” said Fabiola Abelard with Ayiti Makaya, the group that organized this year’s Carifiesta.  “It’s not always the sad, the bad and the ugly. It is the beautiful colours, it is the vibrant, it is all the laughter and the dancing and everything that is lively. This is us.”

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Saturday afternoon, thousands took to the streets to discover and share what it means to be Caribbean.

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“It’s something we grow up with doing all our lives,” said parade-goer Elsa Alleyne, who is a Trinidadian native. “So we’ve been doing this for centuries. I’ve been doing this since I was a child.”

People of all ages and from all backgrounds watched on and danced along to the sounds of a dozen Caribbean nations.

“As a Caribbean, I like to find the mood that I can find in a carnival back home,” said Malick Lombion, originally from Guadeloupe.

PHOTO GALLERY: Montreal Carifiesta 2016

The  41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016.
The 41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News
The  41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016.
The 41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News
The  41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016.
The 41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News
The  41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016.
The 41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News
The  41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016.
The 41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News
The  41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016.
The 41st edition of Carifiesta in the streets of downtown Montreal. Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News
A little rain didn't dampen the mood at Montreal's  Carifiesta on Saturday, July 2, 2016.
A little rain didn't dampen the mood at Montreal's Carifiesta on Saturday, July 2, 2016. Sarah Volstad/Global News

While some in attendance were veteran parade-goers, for others, it was an eye-opening experience.

“I had no idea there were that many people from the Caribbean here in Montreal so it was really fun to see,” said Montreal resident Michael Conro.

The parade started at Fort Street around noon, continuing down Ste. Catherine Street before culminating in Philipps Square hours later.

And the ambiance throughout was like none other.

“Pleasant, blessed, upbeat, and full of the most positive energy you could ever want to be around,” said Dawn Teed who has been attending the annual parade for as long as she can remember.

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While Ste. Catherine Street differs slightly from a Caribbean beach, paraders couldn’t think of a better place to share their island fever.

“We live here because it’s full of different cultures and it’s time for us to show ours,” said Trinidadian Sharon Seales. “So you know what? It just works!”

Although it may not have felt like summer on Saturday, the fiesta kept Montrealers sizzling all day long.