Children and adults at the Chabad Lubavitch Lag B’Omer Parade and Celebration in Toronto’s Earl Bales Park were amazed to be allowed to get a ride up in a real, full size, hot air balloon.
“Never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that my children would get to do something like this,” said Donny, the parent of two excited children as they were being lifted out of the basket of the balloon at the end of their ride. “Chabad has shown itself to be ahead of the pack once again.”
The hot air balloon was donated by the Remax Real Estate Company due to the efforts and lobbying of one of their greatest salesmen: Randy Cohen, a member of Chabad of Thornhill.
It was all part of the full day Parade and Celebration in honor of Lag B’Omer. This multifaceted extravaganza was sponsored and arranged by Chabad Lubavitch of Ontario and Tzivos Hashem Canada together with all the Chabad Mosdos of The Greater Toronto Area.
Preparations began many months ago, in fact, the day after last year’s phenomenal success.
The day began at 12:00 with a rally and amazing trampoline show at the park’s amphitheater. Though it was cloudy and misty, nearly all of the 1200 seats were full of eager, joyful children and their parents.
Rabbi Meyer Gitlin chaired and MC’d the rally while Rabbi Yossi Hecht – standing in for his grandfather, the unforgettable Rabbi JJ Hecht – led the children through the 12 Psukim. Dovid Altein on keyboard along with the bochurim of Mesivta and Yeshivah Chabad – many of whom were TRC (The Rebbe’s Clowns), kept the spirits on a high. Rabbi Yossi Gansburg who orchestrated this part of the day’s events should truly be commended for an outstanding job.
The rally led to a Parade complete with floats – built by Yeshivas Lubavitch and the 8th grade of the Cheder Chabad – a Yids on Wheels motorcycle escort, the Tzivos Hashem Marching Band and signs and banners of every shape and color, marching down Bathurst Street.
Special thanks to Rabbi Mendel Zaltzman for taking care of all the arrangements – including permits, police and the closing of a main thoroughfare for the parade, and Rabbi Itchy Grossbaum for coordinating the floats, banners and more.
As the parade came to a close, with the marchers arriving back in the park, a full afternoon of activities began. There were 10 fairway rides for children of all ages. There was an entire array of carnival booths manned by the girls of Bais Chomesh High School. There was cotton candy and popcorn, and hotdogs and hamburgers. Along with face painting, caricature drawings and music by Bounce Entertainment, participants enjoyed rides in the hot air balloon.
The day’s celebration concluded with a traditional Medurah Bonfire with music by the SimanTov Band.
Though the day started with clouds and rain, it quickly changed to full sunshine, allowing the many thousands to fully enjoy the day.
Special thanks to Esti Steinmetz of Lubavitch Day Camp, Rabbi Yonah Vilenkin of Tzivos Hashem Canada and Rabbi Moshe Spalter for this amazing event.