Saturday, September 18, 2010
Culture: Ukrainian Festival
The Ukrainian and Canadian flags preceded the Baturyn Concert Marching Band near the beginning of the Ukrainian Festival Parade in Toronto, Ontario on 18-September-2010
TORONTO, ONTARIO - I haven't partaken in a lot of community festivals this summer. Part of the fun of the festivals is lost when you can't afford to sample the cuisine, so I've been doing other things. However, with the end of summer just days away, I decided that I had to attend the festival in my own neighbourhood, the Ukrainian Festival that has taken over Bloor Street between Jane and Runnymede.
Children from the Desna Ukrainian Dance Company wore traditional costumes as they rode in the Ukrainian Festival Parade on 18-September-2010
My favorite portion of the festival is the parade. While light blue and yellow dominates the event with more Ukrainian culture than I see the entire rest of the year, the businesses from the Bloor West Business Improvement Area actively participate, and there is always a multi-cultural partner to the festival. This year, it was the Polish community, whose own festival had to be canceled for 2010 because of street construction on its traditional location on Roncesvalles.
Federal New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton walked in the Ukrainian Festival Parade on 18-September-2010
Of course, parades and festivals mean politicians, and they literally filled the stage after the parade. Amongst mayoral candidates, the diminutive Joe Pantalone walked the route and there was a significant Rocco Rossi contingent--front-runner Rob Ford's supporters were nowhere to be seen. Former Prime Minister John Turner was hosted by local City Councillor Bill Saundercook, and Member of Provincial Parliament Cheri DiNovo and Member of Parliament Gerard Kennedy wore flamboyant Ukrainian attire. The highlight in my opinion, though, was seeing Federal New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton looking healthy as he walked in the parade with candidate-designate Peggy Nash and then spoke to the audience at the beginning of the festival. Jack is indeed back!
Celebrity chef Ken Kostick, acting as Grand Marshall, opened the Ukrainian Festival by cutting a red ribbon in Toronto, Ontario on 18-September-2010
The Grand Marshall, though, was not a politician. Celebrity chef Ken Kostick was selected to emphasize a new focus on cuisine during the festival. Kostick happens to be from Winnipeg, the historical centre for Ukrainians in Canada. However, as even the Consul General put it, "Toronto today looks more Ukrainian than most Ukrainian cities." [I wonder how many in the audience processed the politics of that statement, a poke at Russians living in the Ukraine.] Or, as Gerard Kennedy put it, "Today, we are all Ukrainians."
A busker handed a recently-completed balloon to a child during the Ukrainian Festival in Toronto, Ontario on 18-September-2010
The Ukrainian Festival continues for one more day, Sunday 19-September-2010, in Bloor West Village on Bloor Street between Jane and Runnymede.