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East York Canada Day parade returns after two-year hiatus

Area residents of all ages had a blast at the 65th annual event

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Back in 2020, Sandra Collins and six of her friends from Hendriks Court seniors residence were at the East York Canada Day parade.

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The Group of Seven, as they were aptly named, paraded back and forth from their residence at Woodbine Ave. and O’Connor Dr. to Cosburn Ave. waving flags to adoring motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who cheered for them and their spirit.

On Friday, after a two-year hiatus because of COVID, Collins and thousands of fellow East Yorkers lined the streets from Dieppe Park to Stan Wadlow Park to celebrate the return of 65th annual parade.

“I hope to still be around for the 2024 Canada Day Parade because it will be the 100th anniversary of East York,” said Collins, with fellow resident Rita Conn at her side.

Collins said it has been “sad” for the past two years missing out on simple things like exercise classes and even seeing the people at the parade.

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“Its great there are a lot of kids this year,” she said. “More than ever.”

Kids enjoyed rides at the 65th annual East York Canada Day parade and day-long party at Stan Wadlow park, which was finally held after a two-year hiatus because of COVID on Friday, July 1, 2022.
Kids enjoyed rides at the 65th annual East York Canada Day parade and day-long party at Stan Wadlow park, which was finally held after a two-year hiatus because of COVID on Friday, July 1, 2022. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Conn emigrated to Canada many years ago from her home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and was part of the seven in 2020.

“Its brilliant,” said Conn. “Every year we look forward to it.”

“And we can sit here at the front (of the residence ) and watch the fireworks. We don’t have to go to the park.”

Even Toronto Mayor John Tory along with East York-Beaches Councillor Brad Bradford took time out from the parade to greet the ladies outside of their residence and thank them for carrying on the parade tradition.

At Stan Wadlow Park, kids and their families enjoyed slides and other rides, like merry-go-rounds, and games of chance to win stuffed animals.

They also listened to bands on the main stage like the East York Blues Allstars who kicked the Canada Day festivities into high gear.

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The East York Blues Allstars perform on the main stage during the 65th annual East York Canada Day parade and day-long party at Stan Wadlow park on Friday, July 1, 2022.
The East York Blues Allstars perform on the main stage during the 65th annual East York Canada Day parade and day-long party at Stan Wadlow park on Friday, July 1, 2022. Photo by Jack Boland /Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Among the families, there were five who recently fled war-torn Ukraine and now live in East York with a few having their children being treated at Sick Kids hospital.

An organization called Meagan’s Hug sold t-shirts and hats to raise money to assist the families and show the true Canadian multi-cultural friendship the country is built upon.

And as the Canada Day long weekend continues, Stan Wadlow will hold its fireworks display Saturday at 10 p.m.

A snafu of sorts occurred with a vendor who was contracted by the City of Toronto didn’t come through on the fireworks display. Fortunately, another fireworks company stepped in at the last moment.

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