By Markus O'Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff
As I toured the annual Iranian Fire Festival in Mel Lastman Square this week, there was a clear energy coming from the crowd, perhaps especially glad to be back celebrating in their community.
Many, myself included, are nervous about mask mandates being dropped next week. But at the same time, there is no denying that seeing large groups coming together brings excitement – especially as the weather warms up and summer gets closer. Will we soon be able to enjoy our City again?
The answer, at least for the moment, seems to be a big "YES." Festival organizers of all sizes are making plans to animate our public spaces and bring life – and tourists – back to our battered City.
Doors Open will return to the City on May 28 and 29 – a unique chance to explore the many features of Toronto, from City Hall to the Aga Khan Museum to facilities like the Portlands Energy Centre. You'll get an inside peek into hundreds of City buildings.
We will be able to celebrate arts and culture in Toronto throughout the month of June with special events like the Luminato Festival (June 9-19), Pride Festival Weekend (June 24 – 26), and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival (starting June 24).
If food is your thing, the summer months will bring great eats at the Taste of Lawrence in Scarborough (July 8 – 10), TD Jerkest Toronto (August 4 – 7) and the famous Taste of the Danforth, Canada's largest street festival (August 5 – 7).
Other major attractions will return later in the summer. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) returns with new innovative attractions, rides and music from August 19 through September 5, while the Toronto International Film Festival will be back in full force from September 8 – 18.
I'll admit some of my personal excitement is for the return of the Toronto Blue Jays, opening their season on April 8 against the Texas Rangers. It will be comforting to return to such summer rituals this year.
There will of course be lots of local events to be talking about in the months ahead. John is already hard at work with a team on the return of the Cultura Festival to Mel Lastman Square in July. So stay tuned!
But in the meantime, if you're anxious about what the world might look like with fewer masks, I hope you will also be able to think of better times ahead. We've earned them.