Don Duvall remembers being a young boy at the first East York Canada Day Parade 58 years ago.
Duvall has been attending the parade since childhood and has been helping to organize it for most of his adult life.
The past 38 years to be exact.
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“There aren’t enough ‘home town’ events anymore. This is a grassroots community event; it’s made by the community for the community. Local events are a tradition lost in Toronto. Celebrations like this build a sense of community,” Duvall said.
Duvall has worked his way from smaller volunteer roles to becoming the treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of the East York Canada Day organizing committee.
“I’m the first one there in the morning and I’m the one who turns out the lights,” Duvall said.
The East York Canada Day Parade is the longest running one in Toronto.
Shannon Timms-Ugochukwu has been secretary for the East York Canada Day Parade for five years.
Timms-Ugochukwu anticipates a large turnout for the celebrations this year.
“My conservative guess would be 80,000 to 90,000 people,” said Timms-Ugochukwu.
The celebrations are expected to have a larger attendance than years in the past as Canada Day falls on a Wednesday this year making it more probable cottage goers will be in search of Canada Day activities in the city.
Timms-Ugochukwu continues to volunteer for the event because of the opportunity it allows to take pride in East York, and the way it keeps the community together.
Murray Smith began his volunteering in 1981 in the safety and security department for the parade and is now the chair of the East York Canada Day organizing committee.
It was in his early years of volunteering that Smith was inspired to begin his own tradition.
Every year, the night before the parade Smith camps out in a tent near the stie of the stat of the parade the next day.
With the exhibition of Smith’s punctuality, it can also be said that dedication, community, and hard work are the foundations for the success of East York Canada Day Parade.
The event’s triumph relies on the work of more than 60 volunteers each year.
On Saturday, June 27, a volunteer registration will be taking place at 2 p.m. at Stan Wadlow Park.
The parade will start off at 10 a.m. on July 1 at Dieppe Park where it will march east on Cosburn Avenue to Coxwell Avenue where it will head south Sammon Avenue. The parade then heads east on Sammon to Woodbine Avenue, where it then turns north and ends at Trento Avenu by Stan Wadlow Park.
Mayor John Tory will be showing his support for East York as he will also take part in the parade.
The opening ceremony for the day of Canada Day celebrations will take place at noon at Stan Wadlow Park.
Along with lots of food ranging from ribs to funnel cakes to hot dogs, entertainment and games will also help to make the celebrations a day of non-stop fun.
Music lovers can look forward to the East York Concert band at 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Valerie Sherman will be on stage from 8 p.m. until the 10:15 p.m. fireworks display begins.
In organizing the East York Canada Day Parade, witnessing the smiles on children’s faces is Duvall’s greatest reward.
“It’s the first week of summer vacation for children and you can see their eyes just light up.”
“This parade is very important for East York, for its history,” Smith said.
For more information on the parade schedule and route, please visit www.julyfirstparade.com