(By: Kelly Skjerven)
Nathan Phillips Square was full of lights, good music and holiday cheer Saturday night at the 50th annual Cavalcade of Lights.
The festivities began around 7 p.m. with hosts Winston Sih from Breakfast Television and Ashley Greco from 104.5 Chum FM welcoming everyone.
The two hosts introduced the first act of the night, Choir! Choir! Choir! to the stage to perform. They kicked the night off with the classic, “Jingle Bells.” The crowd sang along cheerfully.
The choir sang three more songs including “Feliz Navidad” and “Imagine,” and concluded with the crowd-favourite “Hallelujah.” Lead singers Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland of the band Whitehorse joined the choir for “Imagine.”
Once the choir sang their last song, hosts Sih and Greco came back on stage to continue pumping up the crowd for the next big event: the lighting of the Christmas tree. But first, they asked the crowd to smile for a selfie.
None other than the mayor of Toronto himself was welcomed to the stage for the big reveal of the lighting of the Christmas tree. John Tory walked on the stage along with city councillors and their families.
“This is the fiftieth year of this beautiful, iconic building that people from around the world know. And it’s not just about knowing the building. It’s about knowing about Toronto,” said Tory.
Tory had a lot to say about the cultural diversity in Toronto, and that he was proud to call it the greatest city to live in, in the whole word.
“Probably half the people who are here don’t even celebrate Christmas. They’re here to celebrate each other and celebrate people who do celebrate Christmas and celebrate this city we live in,” said Tory.
Tory asked for a drumroll and began the countdown of the lighting of the Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square. The crowd chimed in and after a countdown from ten, the tree lit up and shone brightly throughout the crowd.
After the lighting of the Christmas tree, the crowd was treated to a concert of Cris Derksen’s Cavalcade Orchestra with guests Dan Talevski, Kiran Ahluwalia, and Don Amero. Derksen is known for her blending of traditional Indigenous music with classical music.
Around 8:30 p.m., hosts Sih and Greco directed the event goers to look at City Hall for the Red Pepper Spectacle Arts Procession of Light. The building glowed shades of red. It was all leading up to the big finale that everyone was waiting for: the fireworks.
After waiting for five minutes, the crowd was silent. Finally fireworks erupted from the building. The crowd cheered loudly, as laughter and smiles were shared amongst everyone.
When asked about her favourite part of the evening, Stacy Wong of Scarborough said “the fireworks, it has to be the fireworks.”
Vasudha Kalia from Brampton also enjoyed the fireworks.
“Favourite part was the fireworks, of course. I guess they put a lot of work into it and that was really nice,” said Kalia.
Whitehorse was introduced to the stage after the fireworks. The husband and wife duo performed songs from two albums with their band.
“It makes us feel so good to look around and think this is what it means to be a Torontonian, this is what it means to be us and to hang out together, and it’s really an honour,” said Doucet, lead singer of Whitehorse. “Thank you so much for sharing it with us.”
The night ended off with a skating party with music provided by DJ General Eclectic.
All photos by author.