Mississauga Kicks off the Holidays with a Bang

 

Mississauga welcomed the holidays this past weekend with the Tree Lighting Celebration atCelebration Square-- a family-oriented party that featured food trucks, scantily-clad acrobats, dancers, drummers, people on stilts, skating and the city's iconic mayor clad in a red scarf and Santa hat. 

The festive gathering attracted hundreds of local revelers, which was a great feat given the icy temperatures and bitterly cold winds. And while the line-ups for the food trucks were seemingly never-ending and the skating rink full of happy ice enthusiasts, the main event appeared to be...Hazel.

When the mayor took the stage (along with several city council members) after the DJ Skate Party (DJ'd by DJ Audiowise) wrapped up, crowds gathered to cheer her light-hearted but fitting holiday message.

"This is the season that we celebrate, but we also share with those less fortunate than ourselves,” Mayor McCallion said. And after mentioning the importance to giving to the Salvation Army, she proudly declared that no child inMississaugawould "go without a toy this Christmas."

The mayor didn't hesitate to throw out some well-received jokes about being able to enjoy world-class celebrations right in Sauga, not "in that city to the east that I don't remember the name of." After more talk of being thankful for one's blessings, she asked people to turn their attention to the Square's monstrous tree.

The tree, decked out in dangling L.E.D. lights (which are inferior to old school glass bulbs that outshine their more energy-efficient counterparts, but I digress) lit up like, well, a Christmas tree to much applause. After that, the entertainment began, even though some families and those who only came for the tree (or perhaps Hazel) began to filter out.

On the entertainment side, the first act who braved the cold was the Culture Division Recital Dance Pack. The group, which stuck to top 40 hits like the phenomenally popular Gangnam Style (which is probably running neck-and-neck with "Call Me Maybe" as the song of the year and one almost everyone secretly loves), performed enthusiastically. After the dancers took their bows, acrobats from Zero Gravity Circus emerged to entertain the crowd with graceful and impressive routines.

The acrobats -- who performed gravity-defying stunts with silk ropes, hoola hoops and each other -- deserve extra credit for sticking with traditional Cirque du Soleil outfits in one degree weather. The glittery attire was often legless, backless and sleeveless, so we can only hope lifting another athlete over your head is enough to keep you warm during a five minute routine. After the acrobatic performances concluded, local percussion group Rhythm Works hit the stage to end the night on an energetic high note.

As for edible fare, the trucks gave Hazel a run for her money as far as crowd culling went. Some trucks on the scene included Rome N' Chariot, Cupcake Diner, Gourmet Gringos, Per Se Mobile, Urban Smoke Fusion BBQ, Tiny Tom Donuts and Spudlicious. Since the weather was unforgiving, hot food vendors attracted the biggest numbers, with Urban Smoke enthusiasts waiting up to 15 minutes for food. It makes sense, as nothing fights cold quite like a carb-heavy brisket poutine smothered in BBQ sauce.

As the night wore on and 9 pm approached, the crowds began to disperse (though the skating rink stayed busy until well after 10). When gazing at the crowd, however, it became apparent that the celebration mostly attracted young families with children. So perhaps when Hazel said Sauga hosts as good a celebration as any major city, she was onto something. 

The Square might not have been teeming with teens and young adults, but it was packed full of families anxious to kick off the holidays at a local venue. And considering the weather and traffic gridlock around Square One that attendees had to brave to enjoy the celebration, that's a sign the city is catering to its main type of resident -- the suburban family -- effectively. 

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