Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Into Parkdale - A Hop or a Flop?

I love community events and enjoy getting out for community festivals because it's a great way to get a feel for a neighbourhood. My regular forays in the direction of Parkdale tend to stop at Gladstone, so I was excited to explore a stretch of Queen West that I don't normally visit. Spring Into Parkdale had a beautiful poster that grabbed my attention and invited people to lace up their sneakers and grab family, friends, and neighbours to "enjoy jackpot deals, sample food & shop locally while browsing Parkdale's galleries, restaurants and shops!". Boy, did that sound exciting!

Unfortunately, as a community event, this was a bit of a flop, I'm afraid. I went on a Sunday afternoon but there were hardly any people out. The weather was on the chilly side, but still sunny and bright, so not really a factor in keeping people away. There were some tents set up at each end of the strip (at Dufferin and at Roncesvalles) that had some activities for kids and some event volunteers. A couple of families were there with their kids colouring but other than that, crickets. I was hoping to grab some kind of a map or brochure with information on what the different businesses were doing but didn't see anything like that available, so I set off walking.  I was heartened to see that all the participating businesses were displaying colourful balloons in the same colour scheme, so it was easy to pick them out. However, other than the stores that were offering sales (which were posted in the windows), there wasn't any information provided on what these businesses were offering, with a couple of very rare exceptions. I stopped by a few antiques and vintage shops but bypassed the bars and restaurants because with no crowds to blend into, I found the idea of walking in to ask if they were doing anything special for the festival really awkward. I love me some food and drink samples but I'm not about to walk into a bar and ask if they are giving any away. And besides, things were supposed to be happening on the sidewalk.

As a sidewalk sale, this event was more successful. There was a fair number of businesses participating judging by the balloons in front of their shops, so at least there is local business support and the event has the potential to grow into something bigger. Not everyone was on board with the "sidewalk" portion of the sidewalk sale and usually you had to actually go into the store to see what was happening. However, some did take part and those helped create at least a bit of a festival atmosphere. There were, indeed, some good sales on offer and lots of interesting antiques and vintage shops to explore, so that part was definitely worth checking out. But I was going in with the mindset of browsing and taking in the community festival atmosphere as opposed to hunting for antique furniture and that, unfortunately, was largely lacking. If you were going in strictly to shop, this would have been a good one - sales were happening but there were no crowds getting in the way.

WHAT: Spring Into Parkdale

WHERE: Queen St. West between Dufferin and Roncesvalles

WHEN: April 20 and 21

COST: Free

INSIDER TIPS: This is more of a shopping opportunity than a community event. If you are looking to check out some of the bars and restaurants on the strip, I would suggest going with a group of friends so you can pick a place and just hang out there for a bit.

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