By asking participants to wear blue, green, and white, organizers hoped the “Walking Wave” parade would mimic the look of a wave.
Instead, it mimicked a wave by being very wet.
But Sunday’s weather didn’t put a stop to the march, concert and art workshop in Sir Casimir Gzowski Park.
Pank Kasturi and his two daughters had come to the lakeside park in the city’s west end for a bike ride when they heard the music.
“We thought, rain or shine it doesn’t matter. We need to go, we need to go,” Kasturi said. “It’s life and you need to enjoy life.”
Huddled inside a covered picnic area, drummers, dancers, and singers also ignored the rain, playing to a dedicated audience.
The event was the fifth stop along the Pan Am Path Art Relay, a summer-long series of cultural events taking place on the newly minted path. The 84-kilometre trail, which will run continuously from Brampton to Pickering when it’s finished in 2017, is a legacy project of the Pan Am Games.
The path links mostly existing trails and parks, including the section of the waterfront Martin Goodman Trail that played host on Sunday.
Ahead of the event, lead organizing group Lakeshore Arts hosted flag-making workshops at schools, libraries and community centres. Using print-making, pastels and collage, 500 people, young and old, designed and created flags representing their community to wave in the parade.
Rather than references to the community’s diverse backgrounds, the physical landscape of the city was the prevailing theme on the flags.
Water was the most common element, said Lakeshore Arts project co-ordinator Melissa McGrath.
“It showed the community’s connection to the lake,” she said. “It’s such a fixture. We’re so lucky to have it in our community.”
Though not nearly 500 of those flags showed up for the parade, the ones that did got creative. One person tucked flags into the straps of her rainboots before heading out from under the shelter.
“Nobody can rain on our parade,” Jamie Berardi boasted to the soggy crowd.
Led by Humber College puppetry students and their puppets, the marchers abbreviated their route, preferring to circle the picnic hut.
The parade was bookended by high-energy performances from Afro-Caribbean dance troupe Ballet Creole, percussionists Samba Elegua, and the South Etobicoke Youth Assembly’s Youth Choir.
It was also one of the eight Art Relay events featuring a bicycle-powered concert, this one from Les Petits Nouveaux.
“Art is a very natural way to connect,” McGrath said, explaining why her group uses it to galvanize the community. “Everyone is touched by art in some way.”
The next Art Relay events take place June 20, when a series of tours highlighting Toronto’s indigenous history kicks off, and Underpass Park hosts the Live Art Festival.