Today was our first full day in Toronto! It was in some ways a comedy of errors, but as Shakespeare would say, "All's well that ends well." The first thing on our agenda was the Lions International Parade. The parade was MASSIVE! There are Lions clubs in 214 countries across the world, and it seemed like all of them were represented! Someone compared the parade to the opening ceremonies at the Olympics, and it seemed an apt comparison - each delegation was dressed in clothes that represented their country or state. Some delegations had floats (like the huge India float that we followed through Toronto on our way to the parade), and some had bands and color guard - like us!
Making the parade - and the rest of our day - even more interesting was the fact that a major road was shut down for the parade, creating traffic and gridlock around the rest of the city. The parade also had to pause on a regular basis because city buses and trams were crossing the parade route.
There was a great crowd cheering us on.
Of course, the majority of the two to three hours that we spent at the parade, we "hurried up and waited." We took advantage of the opportunity to take sectional photos.
After the parade, we headed to the amazing St. Lawrence Market for a quick lunch. We didn't have a lot of time there, but there were lots of shops and food vendors. I enjoyed a wonderful spinach, tomato, and feta cheese crêpe.
After lunch, we headed to the Convention Center to enjoy the exhibition hall and engage in some pin trading. Despite being very close to our destination, it took quite some time to get there because of the traffic caused by the parade. There was also some confusion about where we were going, which resulted in a bus full of us being deposited at the Sheraton downtown - which was not where we were supposed to be! Despite the traffic and confusion, the kids were great, and we all eventually made it to the Convention Center and enjoyed pin trading and viewing the booths.
Next, on to a great dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory - also downtown. Dinner was, of course, spaghetti, and was very tasty. As far as I know, no one got red sauce on their white pants! The staff was also very generous with the napkins, which was helpful. This evening is the "Teen Dance" sponsored by the Connecticut Lions - I'm sure that I will hear all about it tomorrow, and possibly have some pictures to share.
After a late night last night, we woke up super early to leave for Toronto - the buses loaded at 5am! There are no pictures of this event, because my brain was still asleep. As you can imagine, we slept on the buses a good amount of the day. Sleeping was complicated by the fact that we were not just driving to Toronto, however - we were playing in the Montrose 4th of July Parade, which stepped off at 11am. So we got some sleep, but then had a gig. I will say, this was the 4th of July Parade to end all 4th of July Parades - it was a major event.
There were LOTS of people there, as you can see from the photos. There was a flashmob at the beginning of the parade, people in the crowd dressed as characters (check out Woody!), and many, many floats and groups involved in the parade. You can check out my pictures below - they represent about half (!) of the parade, as I headed out with the band once they came through. The band looked great!
The band even made the local news stations' clip about the parade - look for us about 30 seconds into the clip and then again at the end.
After the parade, we enjoyed a great lunch, and then.... back on the bus! We crossed the border into Canada around 6pm, and then stopped at a mall near Hamilton for dinner. Then we boogied on to Toronto, where we stopped to check out the view from the CN Tower before heading to our hotel.
The photos on the observation deck were really hard to get - the lighting outside was red, and every minute or so would flash white for what seemed like a split second - you had to hit it at just the right moment, or you got a really interesting photo.
After leaving the CN Tower - we could have spent much more time there, but we were also ready for the end of a loooooong day - we finally reached our hotel. Hopefully we will all sleep well tonight, as we have a busy day tomorrow - the Lions International Parade in the morning, lunch at a cool market, time at the Convention (pin trading!), dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and a teen dance sponsored by the Connecticut Lions. I'm tired just thinking about all that!
Bonnie McCutcheon is the wife of Dr. Russell McCutcheon, Musical Director of the Lions PA All-State Band. She teaches history at Wilson College in Chambersburg PA, is an active member of the Gettysburg Lions Club, and volunteers with the Girl Scouts.