On the Beat

We’re a city of mainly white lights

I wanted to see how flashy and vibrant Toronto really is, backstage of the tourist spots.

I wanted to see homes lit up à la Christmas Vacation’s Clark W. Griswold’s place: with more lights than stars in the sky.

In Whitby, where I grew up, I remember driving up Glen Hill Dr. in an old Chevy Celebrity to look down on a cul-de-sac filled with Griswold-esque homes.

Anthony Kiedis sings to me, taking him to the place he loves. I start my quest outside the old digs of one of Canada’s brightest musical stars, Glenn Gould.

The old mingles with the new as 110 St. Clair Ave. West sits beside a recent condo at 112. But no Christmas lights.

I press on, expecting the hap-hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny … ahem … Kaye. I continue west over Oriole Rd. with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young telling me to teach my children well.

Perhaps it’s a wee early to expect more illumination in Forest Hill. Still, they’re making it hard to find a Christmas light.

Turning up Avenue Rd., the constant march of cars and the smell of exhaust fill the crisp air. Leftover leaves are strewn about.

As I travel past the Korean consulate, I finally see two bulbous trees wrapped snuggly in green and white strands.

But what’s with the never-ending white lights? They’re bland, dull, even plain. Where’s the kaleidoscope of colour?

White lacks snazziness when there’s no snow. And, honestly, I’m disappointed. Suburbia definitely has the one-up on the city.

I make it up to Lonsdale Rd., right to Upper Canada College’s gate, and only see a hint of blue hue at the school’s doors off in the distance. I head west, still looking for the “Some Kind of Wonderful” that Grand Funk Railroad muses about.

Every tenth house along Forest Hill Rd. seems to be under renovation, which makes it tough to shine the holiday spirit. There’s the odd planter with coniferous branches, holly and pinecones potted in decorative fashion, but few lights.

Finally, marching deep into the residential array of Georgian homes, “like a one man army,” as Raine Maida puts it, I see two trees lit up like electric fruitcakes.

Oranges, yellows, blues, greens and violets assault me. The sudden burst disorients me and I lose track of what songs are on my MP3 player.

To quell my confusion, I look off to the east to see apartment buildings shining with more LED than Kilbarry Rd.

Surely, with Mercedes and Land Rovers in driveways, there’d be more flash on the sash than this.

And as I head east along Kilbarry, I discover there may be something that makes my heart, as they say down in Whoville, grow three sizes.

I do my hallelujahs on Highbourne Rd., where a Cat in the Hat sits on a glistening red sleigh led by a birch Rudolph, a lineup of candy canes and a blinking Frosty.

Across the lane, St. Nick’s Express sits idle outside another home. Intrigued, I continue north along the road.

And, much to my disappointment, no one else seems to follow suit. Sporadic bits of spruce garland and the odd strand of white lights pop out, but there’s no intensity.

Is Toronto so green that it shies from shining a little light? I was hoping to be enthused with people sucking up more power than Transformers do Energon cubes.

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day seems to share my sentiment.

“I walk this empty street, on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” he sings. “Where the city sleeps and I’m the only one and I walk alone.”

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