Better to light a candle…

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Even better – light a lantern or a torch. Hell, juggle that torch and set a giant paper mache sculpture on fire!

I finally broke my Kensington Market Festival of Lights (aka Winter Solstice) celebration cherry last night. (And that’s gotta be the longest cherry-popping confessional ever for me.) The weather was looking pretty dodgy, so my pals Lies and Michael and I decided to meet at Last Temptation and see if the rain was going to settle down while we had a pint. And settle it did. Around 7 p.m., we ventured out to catch up with the parade, which had already reached its destination in the park at Bathurst/Dundas. We joined the crowd, taking turns carrying the lantern I brought (hastily planned, so not on a stick and lit with a battery-operated tea light) – and craned our necks to catch a glimpse of the performance on the stage, featuring Samba Squad drummers, and a jazz band of saxophones and horns.

In the centre of the crowd was a giant paper mache sculpture of a hand holding a heart. A procession of torches appeared and circled around it. At some point, fire jugglers also appeared (though they could have been the torch-bearers too, I couldn’t see) and the sculpture was set aflame. It wasn’t a windy night, so the embers went straight into the air. The sparks shot up so fast they looked like fireworks through the smoke and cheering in the cool overcast night – the night before the daylight starts to return, on the day when daylight is shortest.

Michael said: ” Make a wish!” as we watched the hand/heart burn. It reminded me of a lyric from the Jann Arden song Good Mother: “Feet on ground, heart in hand.” It also reminded me of my key chain – a metal hand with a cut-out heart in the centre – I carry it with me wherever I go. I made a wish for love. That’s it. Just love. And that’s a lot, I guess.

We followed the band back to Augusta and Nassau, then detoured west to visit another pub (which I can’t recall the name of now). It was there that we decided that this festival should be our new annual tradition. It was a beautiful and wondrous spectacle to behold – and the atmosphere of community was palpable.

The winter solstice festivities were organized by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, including an army of volunteers. Check them out at:


Author: life with more cowbell

Arts/culture social bloggerfly & Elwood P. Dowd disciple. Likes playing with words. A lot. Toronto

2 thoughts on “Better to light a candle…”

  1. Sounds very cool! I had forgotten about this parade until I saw the news item on the TTC screens this morning. Your description of the heart-in-hand burning sculpture sounds magical.

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