Sunday, April 20, 2014

Toronto Politicians hop clear of Beaches Easter Parade

TORONTO - Nothing says Easter like Stormtroopers handing out eggs.

The Beaches Lions Club Easter Parade drew thousands of people Sunday to a two-kilometre stretch of Queen St. E., where they lined sidewalks with blankets and chairs on a cold but sunny spring day for the annual tradition.

Floats and participants included Toronto Police, Toronto Fire, Toronto EMS, Toronto Transit Commission – which rolled out four generations of streetcars, including a brand new one not yet on the road, local businesses, Olympians, bands, and even the Canadian Garrison, a Star Wars costuming fan club.

Chocolate eggs were handed out to gleeful kids dressed in bunny ears as parents sipped away on coffee from nearby independent cafes.

And despite being an election year, there were no politicians shaking hands or passing out cards and campaign buttons.

The parade made headlines earlier this month when it declared the event a “political-free zone” focused on being family-friendly.

Parade director Keith Begley told the Toronto Sun’s Jenny Yuen at the beginning of April that politicians “don’t adhere to our rules.”

“They raise their colours and signs when we ask them not to,” he said, adding 10 mayoral candidates had received a “No” in response to inquiries.

Lions Club president Nolly Haverhoek said the ban on elected officials went “just fine.”

“We were getting lots of queries from people running, we just thought it was all too much. We don’t have a lot of manpower anyhow to run this parade, so we made the decision to have none,” she said.

While local politicians were “disappointed,” they understood and respected the club’s decision, she added.

When Mayor Rob Ford heard of the ban, he said he would respect it, despite having purchased 10,000 chocolate eggs to give away at the event.

“If they don’t want us there, they don’t want us there. I respect their decision,” he said earlier in April.

Haverhoek said the parade did receive some of those eggs.

“We got some of them, a few, they’re being handed out here today,” she said Sunday.

Long-time Beach resident Sandra Hyndman was glad politicians were not using the event to promote themselves.

“I don’t mind our own constituency being at the parade representing us, because they work hard for us, but as far as making it a political campaign issue, it takes away from the focus of the parade and the children and the fun,” the 64-year-old said.
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