Virtual Carrousel of Nations a rousing success

Representatives from all the "villages" in the 44th Carrousel of the Nations pose with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre, June 4, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

The 2020 edition of Windsor’s Carrousel of the Nations has exceeded the expectations of its organizers.

The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County (MCC) reported Monday on the Carrousel@Home event, the social media-based celebration of the area’s diversity that was put together after the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on the village-based Carrousel. According to MCC executive director Kathleen Thomas, the virtual Carrousel went off beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

“We have been overwhelmed by the positive responses to Carrousel@Home and the messages of appreciation that we have received,” said Thomas in a media release. “When we made the announcement that the award-winning Carrousel of the Nations would not take place this summer, it was disappointing for our villages, our event partners, and of course, for our community at large.  We heard our residents and their frustration with the unrelenting cancellations of summer events and made a commitment to finding a creative and engaging way for our community to continue to celebrate culture, from a safe distance.”

Once the decision was made to cancel the Carrousel, organizers scrambled to present the 26 cultural “villages” in a virtual format. Each village recorded a community greeting and a cultural presentation. In addition, eight restaurant partners also provided messages.

Allison Johnson, MCC board president and Carrousel chairperson, said there were 12,000 hits over 18 hours this past weekend, and the virtual format even brought back some old favourites.

“To have 26 villages agree to take part in the midst of current circumstances, and then for them produce some of the most amazing music and dance performances we’ve ever seen at Carrousel was simply incredible,” said Johnson. “In addition to groups who take part annually, Carrousel@Home saw both a return of villages that haven’t been a part of the festival for a while and the involvement of some new groups, who thanks to incredible responses from our visitors, will hopefully take part again.”

Organizers are now focusing energy on preparing for an in-person Carrousel of the Nations in June 2021.