Sunday, August 24, 2008

Centennial Park Etobicoke Ukraine National Day Celebrations

Fabulous sunny skies and a cooling breeze were the order of the day for Ukraine Independence Day August 24 celebrations at Centennial Park in Etobicoke, Ontario. Etobicoke (pronounced ee-TOE-bee-ko) is the west part of Toronto bordering Mississauga.

Ukraine Flag atop Centennial Park Hill
Here's the picture taken of a Ukraine flag that had been planted at the top of one of the ski hill runs. I did walk up to the top to take in the 360 views of Toronto and Mississauga. The morning fog had mostly cleared by early afternoon, but a haze obscured views of the surrounding cities and Lake Ontario. Views of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto were blocked by the highrise condos, but to the west I could see Mississauga City Centre, and to the north, the control tower at Pearson Airport.

Ukraine TV booth with a ski hill view
Various vendors and businesses catering to the Ukraine population had set up shop. I seemed to be the only one who did not speak Ukrainian, though I did meet a young fellow -- late teens? - who spoke no English, only Ukrainian. I have to assume he's only visiting Canada for the summer.

Looking northwest towards Pearson Airport
More vendors and a beer garden plus a main stage area (black building middle left). A food court offered typical Ukrainian foods -- perogies (perohe, verenky), cabbage rolls (holubchi), and something billed 'meat on a stick' -- a juicy bit of battered pork fried on a skewer. The borscht (beet, vegetable soup served with sour cream garnish) proved to be hot beet juice, not a veggie in sight! Served in a small styrofoam coffee cup, no spoon, it was an insult to good borscht everywhere!

Sumo wrestlers and pony rides
Kids were having a great time in the padded sumo suits, and on the pony rides, too. Nearby, four canvas gazebos covered many tables set up for chess .
View from Halfway up Centennial Park Hill
From the bottom, the hill seemed a daunting climb, but I kept to the shade along the south side, and took my time. Here, the view at the bottom shows the vendors stalls and food court area.

Typical Ukrainian pattern on Vases
Many vendors were selling Ukraine team sportswear, and blouses, shirts and scarves embroidered in traditional colours (as shown on the vases). Two stalls offered honey, including buckwheat.

I left just as the dancers and other performers were taking the stage. Since I hadn't staked a claim to a patch of lawn (nor brought along a lawn chair) to see the show, I missed my chance.

If there is a celebration here next year, I'll be more prepared. I'll tote my own chair, and bring my own picnic lunch, as did one group: Their picnic of kolbasa, cheese, bread, dill pickles, hard boiled eggs and wedges of fresh beefsteak tomatoes was infinitely more appealing than the food court offerings.

For info about the park, see Centennial Park City of Toronto.