This past Friday, a call went out through a Facebook event inviting people to come out the next night and help light up ten thousand sparklers. With little information provided beyond the goal of “a sustained session of sparkling,” and the promise of free sparklers, the curious gathered on the stage in the bowl of Trinity Bellwoods Park to light up a November night.
As the start-time approached, a rather modest turnout threatened the event’s success, but as the first sparklers were lit, the crowd grew. Soon, the stage was filled with smiling faces lit by a warm yellow glow. It’s a wonderfully simple and unassuming idea—give people objects of infectious delight, and multiply the effect through a spirit of fleeting spontaneity and shared experience. It adds up to an event that you know you’ll remember.
The group behind “10,000 Sparklers” are calling themselves Reinvent Winter, and their goal is to host a series of public, grassroots events that will make us look at winter in the city in a new light. Seeing most winter events and activities as either expensive or passive (or both), they plan to engage shared spaces and places often neglected during the colder months through interactive, accessible experiences. They call this “developing winter culture.”
Torontoist spoke to one of the event’s organizers, Chris Parker, about the ideas behind this new group and their first event.
“This event came from an idea about making winter a better time in Toronto. Doing a few months of broad research, it became clear that except for the city events office that organizes The Cavalcade of Lights and Toronto’s WinterCity Festival (both at Nathan Phillips Square), winter culture is minimal. Tobogganing, skating, bars etc. These activities are great, don’t get me wrong…but with so much innovation going on, I thought ‘why not set our sights on invigorating those three to four unpleasant months in the city?’”
Enjoyment of the deep, dark, and relentless Toronto winter is certainly an area of untapped potential, and Reinvent Winter’s hearts and ideas seem to be in the right place. They may want to take a page from the book of well-oiled-collective-public-event organizers Newmindspace when arranging future events in order to tease out more participants from the warmth of their apartments and houses (there were about sixty participants at the halfway point through “10,000 Sparklers”). However, there is something to be said for the spur-of-the-moment allure of a last-minute invitation and the mystery of a vague description. Word-of-mouth may also be in their corner after the uninhibited and simple fun of Saturday’s event. As Parker believes, “If we can make winter feel warmer, maybe we can enjoy city life a bit more.”
Photos by Miles Storey/Torontoist.