Tuesday, July 5, 2011
We usually have our tent up by 11:00, and as volunteers start to arrive, we get to work setting up barbecues, tables with condiments, bunning stations, and troughs full of ice and pop. There is always a bit of a lull before the parade starts when we cook off a few dogs, and sample them, trying to make sure we have our little assembly line all set to go. As the parade of marching bands, tractors, fire trucks, horse drawn carriages, and church floats winds it's way into the arena parking lot the tension in the tent mounts as we brace ourselves for the inundation of happy, hungry revellers swells around the tent.
Two hours later we look up from the grill, wipe our collective brows and take a swig of something cold as we exchange guesses as to how many hot dogs we served. The frenzy is over and the clean up begins. Every year, this parade co-incides with the PRIDE parade in Toronto, sparing us the temptation of having to choose one over the other.
This year, however, due to some kind of alignment of the stars, the two parades were on different weekends, and a great friend of mine was in Toronto with a room perched right over Yonge Street offering a bird's eye view of all the festivities. After the parade was finished, we took to the streets. In my mind, I thought I would run into people who I hadn't seen for 10 years or so, and I thought there would be lots of happy reunions.
As it turned out, there was such a crush of people, you could barely move, only able to shuffle forward as the momentum of the crowd squeezed you forward at a snail's pace. Once we freed ourselves from the crowd we decided it was time to go back to Grafton, a town with a population less than the people squeezed between Wellesley and Maitland Streets on that hot summer day in Toronto.
For a fun activity, see if you can figure out which of the pictures above were from the Grafton celebration, and which are from PRIDE 2011 in Toronto. (Hint: take a really close look at the fire truck - otherwise, this one might fool you).