Sunday, May 12, 2019

Cherry Blossom Time In Toronto

We came to Toronto on this trip to help Ryan and Ben with a project they were working on, but also intended to enjoy the city and see some of what Toronto has to offer. I have discovered through my travels that I really enjoy city life. I enjoy traffic so long as I no longer have to navigate to work through it, and I like experiencing the crowds of people that big cities can generate.

A gift from Japan
We discovered that the timing of this trip coincided with Toronto's Cherry Blossom Festival. Having experienced cherry blossoms in Japan and China, I was surprised to hear it was a big event here in Toronto. In 1959, the Japanese Ambassador to Canada donated 2000 cherry trees to the city in appreciation for the city accepting displaced Japanese citizens following World War II. Many of these trees were planted in High Park. Over the years other trees have been planted and parks all over the city now feature Japanese cherry trees. These trees provide a beautiful display of blossoms in May, and it has become an annual festival in High Park. The blossoms only last a short time, so everyone goes to the park when they are at their peek. We happened to be here at this perfect cherry blossom time, so decided to go have a look.

You tend to forget just how many people live in Toronto until you attend a festival like this. The
Crowds of People
streets in the park are closed to vehicular traffic and parking is limited around the park, so we decided to use the subway to get there. On a Saturday the subway traffic is normally light, and it was when we got on at Yonge & Davisville, but as we travelled down the number of passengers increased until we were crammed into the cars with crowds of people. Changing trains from line 1 to line 2 involved most people moving on mass through the station to the next train headed towards High Park. Most of the crowd exited at the High Park stop and the stream of people was so thick there was security directing the crowds coming and going. There were so many people that they had to stop the exiting stream to allow the people leaving High Park to get down to the subway platform. We were a group of six and had to be careful to keep others in sight.

High Park is a large city park but there were so many people that the paths and roadways were constantly crowded, and as you got to the areas of the park where the cherry trees were, the crowds increased. Some of the nicest trees had such large crowds around them that it was difficult to get close, and some groups had laid out blankets and picnics under trees claiming the area for their group. It really was amazing how many people had filled the park. Everyone was snapping pictures and
posing among the cherry blossoms.

Just the blossoms
Most people were there to view the spectacular display of cherry blossoms, but with crowds like this, I am always amazed at the people who are there not to see the blossoms but to be seem themselves. I am always surprised at the people who insist on bringing their pets into crowded situations like this so people can see their pets. Don't they understand that dogs get confused and stressed with so many people jostling for position. I especially felt bad for the tiny ornamental dogs trying to avoid being stepped on by hundreds of people towering above them, but the massive dogs who outweighed their tiny female owners looked equally uncomfortable with the crowds. There was even one fellow with what I think was his pet ocelot draped over his shoulders. Then there were the people who obviously dressed to impress, and
trying to out-shine the cherry blossoms, formal wear, steam-punk, costumes, etc. The Japanese background for the Cherry Blossoms was also obvious with a heavy presence of Asian visitors and some of the Japanese had dressed in beautiful traditional Japanese costume.

Overall the Cherry Blossom festival was an interesting experience, and I am glad we were in Toronto in time to take part in it.

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