Thousands turned out to Monarch Park for for the second annual Heart of the East Community Festival hosted by Michael Garron Hospital on the last day of summer, Sept. 21.
Or was that the first day of fall?
No matter, for the weather was plenty warm enough to attract local families to take part in the fun.
“We have a lot more turn-out this year — I think that has a little to do with the weather,” said Shannon Moon, vice-president of annual events and operations at the Michael Garron Hospital Foundation, whose team organized the festivities.
“But it also has a little to do with word of mouth, that people enjoyed themselves last year and wanted to come again.”
Last year drew an estimated 1,000 people but this year’s attendance comes close to tripling those figures, she said.
Also helping draw visitors this year were 28 teams and 300 players taking part in the Kick The Stigma Michael Garron Hospital Cup soccer tournament at the adjoining sports field by the park.
The soccer and festival event is expected to raise more than $125,000 to go towards eliminating the stigma associated with mental health disorders and to helping build state-of-the-art mental health facilities at the redevelopment at the hospital on Coxwell Avenue.
Families were welcome to visit with the vendors, try the food trucks, enjoy a beer garden and participate in family activities including painting by number, face painting, a bouncy castle, giant jenga and bubble soccer organized by paramedics.
Bands scheduled to provide live music were TASSO, the Mammals, Nite Owlz and Trainwreck. Mammals took the stage with a 25-piece band consisting of local parents.