Volume 96, Issue 4

Thursday, June 13, 2002
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Young women turn men on with fun Canuck patriotism

Oh-so fabulous summer festivals

Blue? Prove it. Go to Bluesfest

Young women turn men on with fun Canuck patriotism

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

A biker is checking me out. I can tell by the big appreciative grin he flashes in my direction, despite the fact that his eyes are hidden by the giant, mirrored sunglasses he wears. I can see his eyebrows raising suggestively as his eyes focus on the red maple leaf emblazoned across my chest. Finally, he leans towards me slowly and growls those two little words: "Oh, Canada."

As my friends burst out in hysterical laughter and drag me into the bustling crowd, we are surrounded by all of the smells and sounds of my favorite national holiday.

It's sort of strange for me to love Canada Day celebrations so much since I was born in Poland and grew up in Germany. I moved to Canada when I was 10 and truthfully, most of my formative years were spent with my nose in a book, rather than socializing or taking in our nation's fine scenery.

During my summer of grade 12, a friend and I saw a photograph of a cute juggler in the paper on the morning of Canada Day. We decided we had to go downtown and find him. Once we got downtown, we realized how much was actually going on in celebration of our nation's birthday.

There were people everywhere – families, couples and yes, cute jugglers. Victoria Park and Harris Park were packed with people eating ice cream and cotton candy and wearing temporary tattoos of maple leaves on their cheeks. We spent the day wandering around and happily watching everyone go by. Since that fateful day, it has become a tradition that we head downtown to Harris Park every Canada Day.

Unfortunately, the festivities are sometimes dampened by the organizers' questionable taste in musical performers. Two years ago, mediocre Montreal hip-hopper Ricky J performed a set that somehow managed to be both inappropriate (his sexual gyrations were horrifying to everyone in the crowd for different reasons) and ear-twistingly dull.

Despite the appearance of this horrific "entertainment," there have been some decent acts who have rocked our Forest City during past Canada Day celebrations in Harris Park, including Big Sugar, Sloan and I Mother Earth.

For kickass music with a different flavor – other than maple syrup, that is – my friends and I also love to frequent Sunfest (this year, Jul. 4-7 at Victoria Park and the Covent Garden Market), an awesome, three-day multi-cultural celebration that offers the best music for dancing London sees all year. Evidence? Last year an amazingly hot Cuban band played at the Covent Garden Market and I witnessed the seemingly straight-laced manager of my local TD Canada Trust branch whirling around like it was his last night on earth! Sunfest also has amazing food and an open-minded and chill vibe that's second to none.

But back to Canada Day.

July 1 will always be one of my favorite days of the year – especially in London – because it brings hordes of people out of suburbia. Call me cheesy, but there is nothing quite like seeing happy families celebrating our country's birthday by rocking out to some great Canadian music and walking around by our very own slightly unkept, but still scenic, Thames River. Furthermore, the day's festivities are always capped off by the one of the few things our city council manages not to screw up – the greatest fireworks display this side of Disneyland.

True, sketchy bikers may check me out and I may not have found love with a cute juggler (yet), but on Canada Day you will always find me at Harris Park. I just hope Ricky J stays in Montreal this year.

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