Author: Stephen Weir | Date: 11 March 2019
There were no Triple Axels or Salchows from Calypsonian King Cosmos (Henry Gomez) as he gingerly skated out onto the ice at Mel Lastman Square last Saturday. What he lacked in skating finesse he made up for with his singing and his warm and friendly greeting to the people who came out Saturday to watch Caribana on Ice.
Wearing all black except a colourful feathered headdress with matching wristlets and ankle splashes. Master of Ceremonies, King Cosmos told the family audience they were watching a first – a professional presentation of the Carnival Arts on ice.
“This is the first time this has been done in Toronto, “ he said to a cheering and clapping crowd standing on the edge of the large outdoor rink. “I think it has to be the first time in North America. We usually do this sort of thing on the street in the summer, but, what is more Canadian than being here (outdoors in winter)?”
In the past, the group has held other Caribana On Ice events, albeit with a more informal approach. “This year we have designed what one could describe as a ‘mini’ Caribana on the Ice presentation,” said Event Programmer Amah Harris.
The previous Caribana on Ice family skate days at the outdoor rink at the downtown City Hall's Nathan Phillips Square. Saturday’s two plus hour show was on the ice in front of the old North York City Hall (south of the Yonge Finch intersection).
The ice rink was centre stage. People stayed on the boardwalk that surrounded the stage and clapped and cheered on a non-stop parade of performers. As this reporter discovered clapping was the preferred method to keep warm. As well there was a wood fire stove heating a patio. Vendors sold hot chocolate and freshly cooked Caribbean food. People were also welcomed inside the nearby civic building to thaw out.
Over the course of the afternoon skaters in costume, Dance Caribe dancers, Pan performers and singers, took their turn on the ice, or on solid ground at the edge of rink. Even though there was a light snow and below freezing temperatures, the conditions were perfect for an on-ice skating show.
Although no formal statement was made by the CAG if there will be a 2020 Caribana On Ice, one of the Mas costumed skater on told me that it was so much fun she is ready to perform again. "Hey, I will sharpen my blades and break out the feathers - just say the word!"