There’s been more than one occasion when someone’s asked me, “Does anyone actually go to these things? Like, stand out there in the cold?” This is the most common response to my initial, “I’m going to (an outdoor winter event).”
I then typically follow up by popping open a browser (this is usually at work), hitting TCL, and showing them last year’s thing. “Wow, you’d never catch me out there freezing my ass off”, is typically the next statement. “Well, you keep warm by virtue of shared body heat. That’s what makes the evening so magical; improper touching”, I try to sell it. But that’s usually not enough. After revelations that there’s no booze and that the place is swarming with kids, the conversation just peters off into other subjects, “So … Toronto City Life … what is that, a government website?” “Yup.” “Not very interesting.” “Yeah.” ”Have lunch yet?” “Nope.”
People are too jaded. Perhaps because they’re hungry. The Cavalcade of Lights, with this year’s record lack of snow, didn’t really classify as a winter event, so all that hoopla about buttocks falling of in the cold were for naught. The kids were there, but you couldn’t hear them over the din of the show and any ones caught underfoot were pretty much fair game so that problem wasn’t overly daunting. I managed to get up to the front of the crowd with barely any resistance:
The alcohol prohibition thing is also a bit of a moot point. I was not once searched even though I carried a bag big enough to conceal a small keg. A mickey stolen away in a coat pocket would most certainly have gone unnoticed, or you could do as any self-respecting adult would and simply go already lubricated. Essentially, sobriety is for children, the infirm, and stupid people.
But I don’t want to get hung up on methods of smuggling drinks in because with the kind of cover you get in both the scenery and the crowd, you can pretty much set up a temporary shelter where you and your junkie friends can shoot up in complete privacy. Drinking? Please, the cops have bigger things to worry about. Like heroin addicts. Or those guys that sell all that light-up crap that the kids use once before it explodes toxically in the car on the way home. Domestic-quality Chinese products are always hit-and-miss:
The best way to avoid these shuckers of mens’ wallets is to simply avoid them. Look for the guys with the craziest head gear — dead giveaway — and beeline it in the other direction. If you have children with you, a) Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Hehe! Hahaha! *wipe tear* Oh man. Why would you do something like that? and b) Avert their gaze from crazy hat guy. If nothing else, at least save yourself some cash.
I managed to avoid most of the vendors by pushing my through the thickest part of the crowd, mostly elderly and children — easy!
I don’t know what it is with Citytv but every year they choose the dorkiest personalities they have to introduce the acts. Seriously, the weather guy?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Michael Kuss; nothing for him either. He is adequate in his role to deliver the weather report in a timely manner. That is all.
For something exceptional, we need only look beyond Michael’s adequate head to see City Hall looming expectantly, waiting to be lit up like some kind of incendiary device:
To me, this is the real reason to go; a grand fireworks display that goes off way too close to City Hall. I know that immaculate planning goes into this thing, but who can predict that one unexpected gust of wind, or that one errant firework that’s just a little too far off course? Now you’ve got the holiday display of the season!
There were no showers of jagged glass or flaming audience members so, sadly, the errant firework didn’t happen this year. But the explosions packed a good wallop and this scared the kids, so it was satisfactory. Also, the Christmas tree at City Hall was unveiled during the show and this is more the official tree of Toronto I was thinking of. It’s a massive beast of a white spruce, about 18 meters (60 feet) tall and laden with an indecent amount of decoration. Hard to miss. Unfortunately, it makes for a difficult photo but while I work at it you can get a sense of the tree in the background here:
Even though the celebration’s over, the skating rink remains open until spring so there’s plenty of opportunity to watch people hurt themselves. Say what you will about City Hall, it can occasionally be very entertaining. Even in the cold.