The Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar wows the crowd

The streetcar-driving kitty with a load of passengers.

The streetcar-driving kitty with a load of passengers.

With the help of volunteers, flag bearers, two bands, and police escorts, we pushed the Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar through the Gerrard India Bazaar half dozen times last weekend. Our comical float worked its way through crowds who seemed surprised and delighted by our addition to Toronto’s Festival of South Asia.

It was a long weekend of work. After the movers loaded the dismantled float into a van and drove it from Cuppa Coffee Studios to the parking lot behind Flying Pony, we had less than a day to reassemble and set up the lights. We also built an ornamental tower as part of the Artisans’ Market.

Loading the dismantled streetcar float into a moving truck.

Loading the dismantled streetcar float into a moving truck.

A raccoon awaits assembly in the parking lot behind Flying Pony.

A raccoon awaits assembly in the parking lot behind Flying Pony.

This tower was designed to mark the artisans' market on Rhodes Ave. It ended up being a popular photo spot for festival goers.

This tower was designed to mark the artisans’ market on Rhodes Ave. It was a popular photo spot for festival goers.

We parked the streetcar on Gerrard Street East on Saturday afternoon. The bright colours and swaying balloons immediately garnered attention.

Early afternoon at the Festival of South Asia.

Early afternoon at the Festival of South Asia. The streetcar is topped with giant Toronto critters.

At 3:00, the band assembled for the first parade. Christine made the turbans.

At 3:00, the band led by Jason Kenemy assembled for the first parade.

Andrew and Rob with Festival of South Asia volunteer streetcar pushers.

Andrew and Rob with some volunteer streetcar pushers.

The streetcar project was conceived in part as way to deal with dead spots in the Festival of South Asia,which spans over a half dozen blocks. After we pushed the Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar further down the street, we would leave it for a couple of hours. People would head to that part of the street out of curiosity, take photos, and check out the shops and restaurants while they were there.

Here’s a time-lapse video of one of the stopovers. People really enjoyed the streetcar as an art piece and as a photo op:

Leaving the streetcar unattended was a bit nerve-wracking, but necessary if we were going to avoid heat stroke. On Sunday, the amazing stilt walker (from the nearby Zero Gravity Circus) found four children inside the streetcar. She loomed over the open-topped float and told them they shouldn’t be in there.

stilt-walker-480px

The stilt walker led our parades and kept an eye on the float.

The colours were spectacular in the day, but people really got excited when the lights came on. All of the animals on top of the streetcar were outlined with LEDs, and festive lights were draped over the top of the streetcar. Best of all, interior spotlights lit up the windows, so the comic passengers looked as if they were really riding a night streetcar.

The streetcar in its electric glory.

The streetcar in its electric glory.

The Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar with windows glowing.

The Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar with windows glowing.

All the animals riding inside are associated with South Asian nations.

All the animals riding inside are associated with South Asian nations.

A jungle fowl keeps a watchful eye on its feline riding companions.

A jungle fowl keeps a watchful eye on its feline riding companions.

The Festival of South Asia gets busy on Saturday night. Thousands of folks descend on the neighbourhood for performances and especially food. It’s a real family event and a place where you see Toronto’s multiculturalism in full. We met two South Asian families, from New Jersey and D.C., who had stumbled across the festival and said there was nothing like it in their cities, for any culture. Talking to people from elsewhere always makes me appreciate this city.

We definitely needed to police escort on Saturday night. People were crushing in to see the streetcar and take photos in front of it as it inched along. People also really like to touch the windows for some reason.

streetcar-in-parade-night-480px

The streetcar rolls slowly up crowded Gerrard Street.

Here’s a video of us slowly pushing the streetcar through the evening crowd:

The next day, we started all over again. Three more runs up and down Gerrard Street on a day that was over 30 degrees C.

Sunday's band, Guu, were an all-percussion band. They played on anything: streetcar tracks, tent poles, lamp posts,

Sunday’s band, Guu, were an all-percussion band. They played on anything: streetcar tracks, tent poles, lamp posts.

Time lapse video of the streetcar at night:

We lit the streetcar up on Sunday night and the people flocked like moths. We dismantled the tower in the twilight with the help of a couple of locals. Bone-tired, we waited until a break in the photo-taking, then rolled the still-lit streetcar into its secret parking spot. Then we shut off the generator and went home to bed.

We're with the band. Turbans made by Christine Cosby.

We’re with the band. Turbans made by Christine.

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • RSS

2 responses to “The Bazaar Bizarre Streetcar wows the crowd

  1. Fantastic work Rob!!! And when you said “Jungle Fowl” I know you mean the national bird of Sri Lanka, the Wali Kukula, as I have seen them in person, in the jungle, in Sri Lanka! And guess what – the noise they make is “wali kukula”.
    Looks like the whole project was a great experience.

    • “Wali kukula”, what an excellent collection of syllables. Thanks for taking a ride on the streetcar from afar!