More than a million and a half people are expected to attend a three-day festival celebrating the flavours of Greektown, where just weeks ago a deadly mass shooting unfolded that claimed two young lives.
Friday’s opening ceremony of Toronto’s annual Taste of the Danforth festival will recognise the heroic efforts of first responders and private citizens who came to the aid of 15 shooting victims, including 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis.
The two young people died in the July 22 shooting rampage after a lone gunman opened fire on the street.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also expected to appear at the opening ceremonies, and will deliver remarks around 8 p.m. at the main stage near Danforth and Logan avenues.
Organizer Howard Lichtman says the festival’s 25th anniversary will feature more entertainment that ever before, and he expects a large turnout of people in support of the community.
“We have a motto, we are going to be raising money for the victims with T-shirts and buttons [with] ‘Danforth Strong and Toronto Strong Together.’ We think everybody is going to be down here together with us showing how strong we are.”
Spontaneous memorials that sprang up after the shooting, such as the one at Alexander the Great Parkette, will be moved to one location near St. Barnabas on the Danforth Anglican Church so that people attending the festival can visit and pay their respects.
Meanwhile, businesses along Danforth Avenue are ready to feed thousands of people.
“We are preparing a whole lot of everything. Chicken souvlaki, pork souvlaki and gyro sandwiches,” are some of the items Voula Katsoulis said she will be selling outside her family restaurant Pan on the Danforth.