Thousands of people paraded down Rene-Levesque in a vibrant, colourful celebration of all things Caribbean on Saturday.
Every year, the Montreal Carifiesta carnival makes Caribbean Montrealers feel like they’re back in the islands.
“My family is from Barbados,” said parade organizer Tenisha Collins. “We’re here to represent all the islands: Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba. This is our day to showcase the islands.”
“It reminds me of back home in Barbados where we have our festivals around this time,” said parade attendee Alan Drakes.
“We grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, so we love Carnival,” said attendee Susan Sinanan.
This was the 44th time the Carifiesta has brought Caribbean vibes to downtown Montreal. Many in attendance had been coming as long as they can remember.
“I come every year,” said Marissa Harris. “I used to come here to play, now I’m here to watch. I love it! It’s my people, my culture, I’ve got to be here!”
“I’ve been coming since I was a kid, actually. I’m 24 now and I come every year,” said Allison Williams.
Year after year, the goal is simple.
“We showcase the arts through costumes, colours, music, and, of course, we have a lot of fun,” said Collins.
“I come for the music, the festival and mostly to see everybody smile,” said Jamaican Montrealer Delroy Howell, who was draped in a Jamaican flag.
The stars of the show are the costumes. The gigantic showcases of art and culture are wielded by people of all ages.
“There’s no carnival without the costumes. The costumes are art. It takes so much work to make these costumes, and the pleasure in showcasing that art is the most beautiful thing,” explained Collins.
Some unintentionally got caught in the action, like a pair of British tourists who came upon the parade right outside their hotel.
“I think it’s brilliant,” proclaimed Jo Hairst, visiting from London.
The parade wasn’t a joy for everyone. With Rene-Levesque closed to cars, traffic ground to a halt for hours in the downtown core. One driver told Global News she had been stuck on Ste-Catherine Street for an hour.
A few blocks over, thousands were dancing and smiling as far as the eye could see.