Memorials for Greektown shooting victims relocated for Taste of Danforth festival
Chris Fox, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, August 10, 2018 8:17AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 10, 2018 9:25PM EDT
Four makeshift memorials that sprung up in the wake of a deadly shooting in the city’s Greektown neighbourhood last month have been moved to a central location to accommodate this weekend’s Taste of the Danforth festival.
The memorials, the largest of which was located around a fountain near Danforth and Logan avenues, were packed up and taken to a garden outside the nearby St. Barnabas on the Danforth Anglican Church at around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, where they will remain until a more permanent memorial is eventually erected.
City workers were brought in to move the memorials and it took them about 20 or 30 minutes to complete the job, according to reports from the scene.
There were a handful of people on hand who verbally objected to the relocation of the memorials but the process otherwise unfolded without incident.
“Most of the flowers had died. It’s been two weeks and there were four different places so what we have done is consolidated everything into one location instead of everyone going to four locations,” Taste of the Danforth organizer Howard Lichtman told CP24 on Friday morning. “It is a large proper space so people won’t be crowded and can pay their respects.”
This will be the 25th annual edition of the Taste of the Danforth festival, though this year’s event will likely take on a different feel coming so soon after the July 22nd shooting that killed two people and injured 13 others.
The festival officially gets underway at 6 p.m. and at 8 p.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor John Tory and other dignitaries are expected to speak during the opening ceremonies for the event.
“I think people are sad for what happened but they feel that it is not something that happened to the Danforth; it is something that happened on the Danforth. It wasn’t about the street and I think they are feeling the warmth of Danforth strong,” Lichtman told CP24 on Thursday.
“What we are hearing from lots of people is that Danforth is their neighbourhood. They may live elsewhere in the city or come from 30 or 40 kilometres away but they say ‘I own a piece of the Danforth.’ It is a very special feeling and I think we will see an outpouring of that this weekend.”
At an unrelated event on Friday, Toronto Mayor John Tory echoed those sentiments, saying he anticipates the annual festival will see a record number of visitors.
“I think what we’re going to see if what we saw on the day after the tragic incident, which is an outpouring of support and strength that has come from not just people living in that area and working in that area but from people across the city,” he said.
“I think the Taste of the Danforth will have record attendance this year because people want to send that signal that these events we’re healing (from), we’re resilient, that we’re strong that we’re strong – we’re one Toronto. You’ll have a lot of people coming down to send that message….It is good for the Danforth and it’s good for the city.”
Further down the Danforth, a mural has sprung up in dedication to those killed and wounded in the shooting.
The side of a Circle K store on the busy street has been decorated with vibrant paintings of trillium flowers, doves and fireworks bursting over the Toronto skyline.
The mural, done as part of the city’s StreetART Mural Program, is artist Magicfinnga Wong’s way of paying tribute to those impacted.
The words “Toronto Strong” are front and centre, at the top of the wall, in white lettering.
“I’m trying to get across a message of unity, peace, harmony, togetherness. I want everyone in the city to know that no matter what happens, whether it’s tragic or not, it’s all of us who comes together to make sure that it doesn’t stick.”
Three black silhouettes sit at the bottom of the mural. Wong said they represent the first responders who responded to the ordeal that warm summer night.
“I think they’re underrated a lot in the city. In recent times with the van (attack) on Yonge Street and now this on Danforth,” he said. “I just felt like they needed some type of cheering up. We’re still with you, even though you guys are responding to these horrific scenes. The city is still behind you and we still support and cherish all the work you guys do.”
Wong said he hopes the mural can help Torontonians heal.
“One people, you know. We need to talk about it and art opens that door,” he said.