East York’s Canada Day 2020 celebrations to include virtual fireworks, community singing of O Canada on July 1

This photo shows the 2019 East York Toronto Canda Day parade. This year's parade, community festival at Stan Wadlow Park and fireworks have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, celebrations that are safe and virtual are planned for East York on July 1.

East York residents have a number of ways that they can safely and virtually celebrate Canada Day this July 1.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 63rd annual East York Toronto Canada Day Festival will not be taking place. The parade, fireworks and community festival have been cancelled for this year, but will return in 2021.

However, East Yorkers still have ways to celebrate our nation’s 153rd birthday thanks to the efforts of the East York Toronto Canada Day Festival Committee.

Festival chair Kathy Johnson told Beach Metro News earlier this month that despite the cancellations of the events that would draw large crowds of people such as the parade and fireworks, the celebration is still on.

For 2020, the festivities will be called Canada Day 2020 @Home in East York. Local residents are encouraged to participate in a number of ways, both virtually and safely with at-home celebrations.

“People get the safe and responsible decision to do something different,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a number of initiatives set up and thought about in terms of how can we support people to have celebrations at home.”

Earlier this month, East York residents were invited to take part in a number of challenges which were then submitted online to the committee in order to make a July 1 video which will be posted on the East York Toronto Canada Day Festival website at www.eydc.ca

The weekly challenges were a video of a household singing O Canada, a video called My Canada & Me that asked residents to share what Canada Day means to their family, and a video from residents showing off their Canada Day decorations.

On July 1, there will also be themed games, activities, and scavenger hunt available to be accessed on the East York Canada Day website.

Also on July 1, there is an Out-Front Dinner Party With Your Neighbours set to begin at 6:30 p.m. This event will see residents “join as a community of neighbours, families and friends to dine together – but apart.”

Residents are encouraged to celebrate this event safely while maintaining physical distancing recommendations. “Neighbours together but being safe. East Yorkers taking care of each other…Set yourself up to dine on your balcony, front lawn or driveway. A picnic style dinner to an all-out formal dining experience. Your imagination is your only limitation,” said the East York Canada Day website.

At 7:30 p.m. on July 1 there will be a singing of O Canada from the porches and balconies. Once the national anthem has been sung, participants are invited to bang some pots and pans and make some noise to thank frontline workers for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada Day celebrations in East York will wrap up with a virtual fireworks display at 10 p.m.

“It’s about a celebration, the community coming together, multi-generational,” Johnson said of this year’s East York Canada Day celebrations. “We want to capture that and have that same feeling, this community has done an amazing job coming together and supporting each other.”

As part of that spirit of helping others, residents can purchase a Canada Day-themed face mask with proceeds from the sales being donated to the Red Door Family Shelter and local food banks via Community Centre 55. Face masks are $10 each, and can be purchased by emailing eycanadadaymasks@gmail.com

“Canada Day has always been a very big deal in East York,” Rick Mercer said in a special video on the festival website. “And has been since 1957, it’s Toronto’s longest-running Canada Day festival and nothing, not even a global pandemic, is going to change that.”

To see the Canada Day videos, take part in the online activities or view the virtual fireworks display on July 1, please visit the East York Canada Day website at www.eydc.ca

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