Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fire and ice, and a jellyfish

Dancing round the bonfire
Over the last few years, I started to worry about the future of the Kensington Festival of Lights; it seemed like an event that had outgrown its venue. The herds of people were so huge they could barely squeeze into Kensington's narrow streets. It was getting next to impossible to see the giant puppets and the fire-dancers. Which was a shame, because the Festival of Lights has really become my favourite holiday tradition.

Good news! This year's Festival was the best yet. I think that what happened was something like that old Yogi Berra quote: "Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore -- it's too crowded." So many people got fed up with the Festival's crowds & stayed home that the crowd size was manageable this year. It was also the best-organized Festival of Lights I've seen: there were orange-vested volunteers directing the movement of the crowd, and an announcer with electronic amplification to explain what was going on in the park. And the weather was perfect: dry, but not too cold. Here's a set of festival photos.

I hooked up with a small but hardy band of psychogeographers. When I met Alison in front of the firehall, she was already going on about a small child she had seen wearing the most amazing jellyfish costume. We spent much of the festival searching for the jellyfish in the crowd, and finally we found her! We felt that the winter solstice needs a cuddly mascot, and the Solstice Jellyfish is an excellent candidate. We started envisioning seasonal children's picture books.

After the bonfire, Alison, Jason, Dylan and I warmed up at Buddha's Vegetarian Restaurant on Dundas with a tasty but alarming-looking variety plate of mysterious vegetable-based mock meats, and then Alison proposed that we walk up to Bloor and Christie to see the giant tiger. Being originally from Eastern Ontario, my first thought was, "There's a Giant Tiger on Bloor now? Cool!" But no, she meant the 15-foot illuminated tiger that now graces Koreatown. Alison feels a special connection to this tiger. As an activist with the Toronto Public Space Committee, she spends a lot of time going over city proposals and e-mailing city councillors, asking them to say no to the megabins, no to new billboards, no to giant distracting video screens hovering over the Gardiner, etc. All that negativity was starting to get her down, so when she came across this proposal, she was thrilled. Councillors across the city started getting e-mails saying, "Please vote against the megabins -- but please vote in favour of the giant glowing tiger, it will be SO AWESOME!!" And here it is:
burning bright


Anonymous alison said...

did i call it or what? _SO_ _AWESOME_!!

10:17 a.m., December 23, 2005  
Blogger JuliaMazal said...

ok - I previously posted as "pc" - changing my postin' name now.
1) the tiger looks amazing - i'll have to trek out there and check it out
2) followed a link to the Solstice Jellyfish - I wanna know: does this being bring gifts?

12:18 a.m., December 25, 2005  
Anonymous Liav K said...

That Buddha's restaurant is awesome. Crazy decore in there, too.

2:20 p.m., December 25, 2005  

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