Calypso beats overpowered the downtown din, as thousands packed into Yonge-Dundas Square for the launch of Caribana yesterday afternoon.

And the 42nd opening carried an optimistic tune, as early concerns about the city strike ruining this year’s celebration are starting to subside.

“We’ll pick up garbage after the parade if we have to,” said Merlyn James, a teacher who has spent 12 hours a day and more than $2,000 preparing her costume for the King and Queen competition.

At this point, there are no plans to cancel or relocate the King and Queen competition at the city-run Lamport Stadium on July 30, despite concerns the venue would be shut down.

There was also worry that, with ferries docked, the concerts on Olympic Island would be cancelled, but discussions are underway to move the Aug. 2 event to a new venue on the lakeshore.

This year’s launch was moved from Nathan Phillips Square because of the strike. The city is working closely with Caribana organizers and city officials said the festival could be a “unifying moment” for a city frustrated by the strike.

With that, Mas dancers took to the stage in vibrant costumes of bright colours and many feathers, moving their hips in impossible ways.

The crowd cheered and danced along, some as skilled as the colourfully feathered, others preferring a standard head bob.

More than one million people are expected to take part in this year’s celebrations.

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