Wicked winds and sombre skies couldn’t stop the fun at the Summerlyn Retro Street Party this weekend.
Despite the threat of a tornado warning on Saturday, organizers, performers and attendees decided the show must go on along Blue Dasher Boulevard between Empire Drive and Sundragon Trail, where the street was temporarily closed to make way for the community event, which was limited to residents of the neighbourhood and their guests.
Both Ward 6 Coun. Nickolas Harper and Ward 4 Coun. Joesph Giordano were co-MCs and Giordano said all 890 tickets to the ’80s and ’90s themed party were sold out and estimated there were about 1,200 people at one point as neighbours and guests came out to enjoy performances from Sonic Groove, Dadbods, DJ Klever, Elissa, Joée, magician Scott Dietrich and more.
“The street was jam packed. It was standing room only. I couldn’t believe how many people were just having a ball,” Giordano said.
While final numbers are still being tallied, Giordano expects the event to have raised more than $9,000 for the Helping Hand Food Bank, with which the organizers, Street Party Collective, plan to partner with Peter Reali No Frills, who was also a sponsor.
“We’re going to get the list from the food bank for what they need and we’re going to Reali No Frills and get it at wholesale so we can maximize our purchasing power and get the food bank exactly what they need,” he said.
Initial numbers show more than $4,500 was raised in donations from attendees and $6,000 from Carpenters Local 27 (with $2,000 towards operation budgets and $4,000 directly to the food bank), and there were also plenty of businesses from Bradford and beyond who helped sponsor the event including:
- Platinum sponsor Master Appliance
- Summerlyn Dental
- Summerlyn Pet Hospital
- Optica Moda
- BMS Karate
- Minerva’s Creations
- Total Plumbing & Mechanical
- The Mortgage Partners
- The Bradford underground Bowl
- Marketology Group
- PMM Formwork
- Union FC
- Manulife (David DeBartolo)
- Maple Leafs Food
In addition, Great Gulf Homes provided attendees with icecream and portable washroom facilities, Magical Events supplied games, Technical Concrete Solutions and TOP Scaffolding co-ordinated to help reach the group’s target and Ward 2 Coun. Peter Dykie’s Bradford Jewellery donated an esquire watch for the best dressed retro ’80s costume.
Giordano called the event a “perfect example” of building community and praised the Street Party Collective for their efforts.
“It was magical. This was the whole Street Party Collective who put this together, but being the MC and the councillor for the ward, I’m so proud, because this whole community really gets the community aspect and they appreciated it. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time,” he said.
There was a particularly memorable moment early on while it was still windy and cloudy, but as Joée took the stage, the clouds parted, the sun shone directly on him and he became a bit emotional as he dedicated his song “Angel” to his late sister, Giordano recalled.
“People were crying, smiling and dancing all at the same time. It was special,” he said.
It was also a welcome break from the earlier weather that threatened to ruin the event, as a tornado watch turned into a warning, and around noon strong winds damaged the stage, tore off banners and sent some tents flying as far as 18 metres, by Giordano’s estimate.
On top of that, one of the generators failed.
Town staff offered organizers the use of the arena as a back up venue, but capacity limits meant it could only accommodate 550 people, or a little more than half of the expected attendees.
“We thought, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to have to roll the dice then,’ and thank god we did, because it turned out to be incredible,” Giordano said.
He explained that after a lot of scrambling by organizers and some shortening of performance times, everything was able to get underway around 4 p.m., just one hour later than expected, and everyone was able to perform.
Youth volunteers cleaned throughout the day, and remaining attendees also helped out at the end of the night, and Giordano estimated everything was cleaned up within about 30 minutes.
“Everyone just really pitched in and really made it a great event. They all helped keep it clean and keep it safe,” he said.
Among others, some members of the Street Party Collective include:
- Kash Toor
- Dominic Garisto
- Jerry Ledo
- Flavio and Angela DiGiovinni
- Klever Altamirano
- Randy Sist
- Christina and Joseph Giordano
- Nickolas Harper
- Pat Agostino