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article imageBehind the Scenes at Toronto's Scotiabank Caribbean Festival Special

By KJ Mullins     Aug 2, 2014 in World
Toronto - For years the Scotiabank Caribbean Festival Parade has put the city in a party mood that lasts for days. The festivities bring a bit of the Islands during the eight-hour parade. That party atmosphere takes months of prep behind the scenes to pull off.
After 3 weeks of Scotiabank Caribbean Festival events the Grand Parade signals that the end of the season is coming. For those marching in the parade and those attending the Mas celebration it's a day of partying but for the organizers the Grand Parade is one of the longest days of the year.
Stephen Weir being interviewed by local media
Stephen Weir being interviewed by local media
One of the busiest on parade day is publicist Stephen Weir. For months Weir has been in planning meetings with the organizers, pre-festival events and working away to make sure that the parade will go off without a hitch. It's just part of the job but this job brings in millions of revenue for the Province of Ontario. It's old hat for Weir who has been working on the PR for the festival for years.
Weir and Festival CEO Denise Herrera-Jackson getting ready for the parade
Weir and Festival CEO Denise Herrera-Jackson getting ready for the parade
On Saturday morning Weir was up and rolling with the dawn after attending the Jab Jab J'Ouvert on Friday night. By 8:00 a.m. he was at Exhibition Place walking the parade route ready to deal with any last minute changes and sort out any media concerns. One of this year's last minute issues was the closure of the Burlington Skyway on Thursday afternoon after a massive accident. With many of those attending the parade coming from the United States this last minute traffic concern was a big issue that had to be addressed quickly on the festival's web page. Weir feared it would cause a reduction of attendees. By mid-day he was relieved to hear that travelers were able to get around the traffic snags with little problem.
Ribbon cutting ceremony at Scotiabank Caribbean Festival s Grand Parade
Ribbon cutting ceremony at Scotiabank Caribbean Festival's Grand Parade
Weir quickly got to business talking to the key players, members of the media and the police readying for the official start of the parade at 9:30 am when the ribbon would be cut by Premier Kathleen Wynne, Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, Ontario Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport Michael Coteau, City Hall politicians, Scotiabank Vice President of the Toronto East District Christine Williams, Festival CEO Denise Herrera-Jackson and CAO Chris Alexander in front of the first judging areas. Between giving out last minute media badges, fielding questions and making sure that all those who were to speak were in place Weir was giving interviews to Toronto media outlets.
As the first speakers started Weir was off to the sidelines making sure that media was getting their stories and preparing for the rest of the day. Photographers had to be cautioned where they could go, some requiring that information several times. Each time Weir kept his cool, smiling and joking but firmly making sure that the Mas parade route was safe for everyone.
Weir and photographer walking on the route
Weir and photographer walking on the route
Weir along with Alexander and Herrera-Jackson would spend the rest of the day traveling along the parade route making sure that attendees had the time of their lives. Each step of that route Weir was stopped by media and organizers checking in, requesting information or simply saying hello. He patiently answered each question with a boyish smile and setting everyone at ease.
Weir talking with Festival staff
Weir talking with Festival staff
Weir kept up his dizzyingly hectic pace the entire day. Each issue was calmly addressed and stored in memory for the future. At the end of the day Weir could finally rest for a bit before readying up for the last day of this year's Carnival taking place Sunday at Toronto Island.
It's all in a day's work.........one that took months to get to.
More about Scotiabank Caribbean Festival, Stephen Weir, Grand Parade, Toronto, Caribana
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