TORONTO CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL KEEPS SPIRIT OF CELEBRATION, COMMUNITY SOLIDARITY ALIVE IN FACE OF PANDEMIC

For first time in 53 years, much-loved Carnival won't feature its famous parades and parties

One of the costumes new mas band SugaCayne would have debuted at Toronto Caribbean Carnival this year. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“Being in here and it’s empty is just heartbreaking. There would [normally] be a lot of energy going on right now,” Candice Dixon says as she and her husband, Dwayne, stand in the middle of a desolate warehouse space.

It’s the site of their mas camp, where people would normally gather to get ready and distribute costumes ahead of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

Long-time masqueraders, Candice and Dwayne Dixon have worked for the past two years to start their own mas band, SugaCayne, in time for 2020. Costumes were designed, spaces were leased, themes and concepts tirelessly worked over.

That all came to a halt when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and Toronto went into lockdown.

“At first I was like, okay, two weeks … I’ll bring some stuff home and work on a few pieces. And then it became very real that it wasn’t happening, and it was a blow,” Dixon says.

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