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