“Girl, you REALLY live from Carnival to Carnival yunno!”It’s a saying I have heard from many of my Toronto counterparts. But can I help it? I think not. Have you ever tried to survive a winter out here? Carnival has become a cultural vessel for escape for me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. And Caribana, though nowhere on the scale to Trinidad’s finest, is of little exception. So naturally, any true Carnival baby preparing for his/her half-birthday celebrations of sorts can’t help but feel the swell of excitement- the ultimate anticipation to satiety. =)This year, deciding to play with Nationz again was a bit unexpected, but eventually not surprising. Last year, their customer service got put on blast, but itruth be told, they costumes were beautiful. I thought maybe this year I could have given Jamohl a lil’ bligh, but after I perused those **ahem** options, I eventually ran back to the hand that bit AND fed me at the same time.So. the Foster Car dealership where the registration is, it’s in the east end of Toronto. Scarborough to be exact. I leave my house at 3pm.
“What do you mean? Didn’t the website say registration begins at 6?”Yup, it did. But just remember this: it is my humble opinion that, aside from Tribal Knights, Carnival Nationz has pretty much presented the best array of costumes for this season. So we anticipated the mob.After having met my girlfriend at the subway station, we proceed to what we know is going to be an “entertaining” evening. We arrive promptly at 4:30pm, and there are about 35 people ahead of us already, including a very pregnant young lady, due this week. She has pre-conceived a game plan as well: walk with a lounge chair to sit outside and wait until the doors are open.
Her costume choice? “Sextant Horizons, so that it can cover up anything that I don’t lose in time for being on the road!” Our hearty conversations continue for the duration of the wait, as we notice the line beginning to bend the corner of the carpark.It was interesting to see how well people network. So well that their feet become planted into the ground IN FRONT OF YOU. Yes, that very ground that is aching my feet, because I have been standing here for over an hour. That was the one thing that sort of stirred my INNER GUNTA. People clearly had a problem with going to the back of the line. I had already decided from personal experience last year, if anyone made me miss the opportunity to get into the section I wanted, not even Haedes and his band of minions would be able to hold back my wrath. Not even samples from Flow 93.5 could contain my impatience. But Machel certainly soothed my soul from the massive speakers that could be heard from blocks away…”..Come make love to mehhh..ohhh-whooaaa…”I digress…the doors opened at 6:20 pm. What, you were expecting them to be on-time? The side routes suddenly become swollen with people trying to make a sideways dash for the entrance. Naturally, they receive the look of death. The officials check your ID at the door, make sure your name is on the list of 2007 masqueraders, and let you in 8 at a time. At this point, I’m trying to decide between my top 2, worried that another costume my grab my eye, and then I go into a meltdown. The moment the lady at the door gave me a nod, I dashed to inspect evey single detail of the costume finalists. Along with CN officials, you also have reps trying to sell you cars. There’s the catch, lol, I said to myself as they were dutifully IGNORED.The costumes were well-displayed. You were able to touch and tug at the prototypes, and there were reps around the costumes to answer the questions every masquerader asks to make an informed choice. There were also lights shone onto the costumes just to give the sparkling effect- good thinking!Alas, one of my costume choices do not live up to the hype, and the one I was so set against becomes the more appealing choice.
The decision has been made.I maneuever through the crowd to find a seamstress, finalize my measurements, and then have my application form signed off by one of the section leaders, who I must say was very pleasant. Curtis (Eustace) monitored every single occurence, making his presence felt. I then scramble to find a line to make my payment. There are about 4 cashiers operating, and every line snaked corners.SIGH! So my girlfriends and I do the smart thing: we split up into different lines, and whomever gets to the front first, we join, pay, and get out, because by this time the place is CHAOS. Then, a lucky break. One of the CN attendees pull my girlfriends out of their lines, because a 5th register is being formed in the back. We beat the system, HA! The reps input our information into the system, take our payments, finalize our balance upon costume collection, give us our goodie back of a free t shirt and an envelope with junk mail from Fosters. I will definitely say that the process was a much less hassle from last year, possibly facilitated by the larger venue.Did I mention that our “Loyalty Card” is not even laminated? Apparently the final prototypes will be available by time we have to collect our costumes. On my way out, I run into my guy friend who works for Nationz, and he told me on the spot that Shipwrecked is sold out. =/ Daaaaaammmnnn like the Black Magic of Toronto 2008!As we leave, we see a crowd of about 150 people still waiting to get inside, and the staff URGING people who have already registered to leave so that they can let other people inside to register. The time? 8pm. The closing time? PROMPTLY at 9pm. Madness I say!So from what I experienced yesterday from all the staff..they tried to keep their cool. Good improvements from last year. But you know…I’m a Tribe girl, so I will always say improvements can be made.
Now if I could only see into the future for costume collection…the plot thickens!…..
Many thanks to TrInIgyal for that excellent account of the registration madness!