"You're right." I recalled myself thinking. Whether it was the act of waking early or the process of navigating downtown, or the combined proposition of dragging a sleepy body far from home and into the cold, the entire ordeal had just seemed so...unpleasant, especially if it was merely to wait some more.
Our arrival of 3:50 PM was ideal, as we had managed to beat the last of the participants to gather just in advance of the 4 PM start time.
There were no floats, much to my dismay, however we were graced with numerous dance routines and appearances by Iron Man, Olaf, Mario, Christmas edition Minion, and the Grinch. Further appearances were made by drumming stilt walkers, a juggler of fire, Mrs. Claus, the Burlington Teen Tour Band, and, of course, the jolly old man himself.
The Tree Lighting by the Olympic Torch Run Legacy Trail was forgotten amidst the crowd; instead was a 1 km trek down Queen Street, back to the point where it joined Valley Way.
Like the Seasons Christmas Show, the strip mainly comprised of vendors selling knickknacks for the upcoming gifting season. It was of minimal interest to us, thus we retraced our footsteps back to the car while on the lookout for hot chocolate and bathroom facilities.
The washrooms were extremely clean despite heavy usage and a constant lineup by the door. At learning the extent of the lineup, we inserted ourselves before a man hovering by the door, not knowing that he too was waiting. Despite this, he was kind enough to offer the earlier spot to us.
Swiftly capturing the curls of steam escaping our drinks, I exhibited my compliance to a member of staff, who then migrated to the kitchen in search of cookies. When none were to be found, she offered a Brownie as a substitute. I politely declined, explaining that I had made brownies myself earlier, then agreed on the Apple Crisp instead.
The drinks had rang in at four dollars each - quite reasonable given market value. That said, they weren't as consistent as other establishments in the GTA. The Peppermint Chocolate was tacky - excessively sweet - with pepperminty elements submerged at the cup's depths. Tangy was the Apple Cider, which served to quench thirst more effectively in a lukewarm or chilled state.
Folks bearing utmost laziness (or those that fear scalded lips and tongues like myself) can opt for devouring the treat cold. Its cozy cinnamon-y notes are resilient against temperature drops, even in consideration of an overnight stay in the fridge. That said, it was phenomenal when slightly warmed as well, and, really, simply amazing regardless of cold or warm.
I will not preclude the potential that its edges and bottom may have once retained crunch. But crunchy what may, I hadn't been patient enough to let toasting conclude this hypothesis.
Along the way, we detoured to see the Winter Festival of Lights along Niagara Parkway. Traversing south, our left glowed with multi-toned mist while the right with flickers of colourful LED arrangements.
Our path involved a dusky, Baby Park-esque loop onto Portage Road, earning us enough elevation to eulogize the brilliant fixtures from afar.
It was dimmer and louder than I remembered, yet nonetheless as appealing and wondrous as my child self had painted it to be. The atmosphere was, in fact, the same! As if deeply immersed within the jungle environment, a night sky of twinkling stars hovered over us. Behind was a fish tank, before a family of elephants, and adjacent a tree of parrots and swinging baby gorilla. With each glance about the room allowed for a new observation: flowing water, dangling snakes, and more!
Two members of the serving staff had paused by our table during this period of reminiscence; our minds had yet to be readied for reading. Moreover, the surrounding environment had made review of the menu quite challenging: the restaurant's illumination (or lack thereof) was not suitable for scrutinizing text on a small but brights screen, while prominent noise levels presented a hurdle for discussing items of interest.
Plastic cups with randomized figurines of the crew were available with purchase of a slushy, sugary, and food-colouring tinted drink. In place of soft drinks were plastic glasses of warm water, for no longer am I kid with no qualms of sugar overdose.
Veggie sides of zucchini, red pepper, and green beans were largely unseasoned and likely derived from frozen packages - not that I could complain of grease-free vegetables. Prepared in a similar manner were the fries. I debated whether they were reheated Cavendish, as they were crunchy and thankfully not that salty. Their hollow interior was superior to the mushy homefries of many establishments; not being particularly salty, they were as kid-friendly as the side veggies.
Protein ranged from Chicken Breast to Ribs to a skewer of de-shelled shrimp. We learned that, while the marinade had not been depicted in advance, the chicken was tender and not spicy in any regard. Tender was its profile - an unmistakable leanness with unidentifiable sauce - and rubbery it was not. The Ribs were satisfying, even in the absence of a charcoal grill, and completely mild. There was but no satisfying char, only a platter suitable for diners of all ages. Tiny and slightly rigid were the shrimp, indicating pre-packaged properties.
Washroom facilities were debatably clean, for the sighting of a spitball on the stall wall was quite questionable. One sink included a plastic stepladder before it, primarily for the children old enough to take hygeine into their own hands, but not tall enough to reach the faucet.
- Cha Cha Tree Frog
- Ozzie Orangutan
- Rio Parrot
- Iggy Iguana
- Maya Jaguar
- Bamba Gorilla
- Tuki Elephant
- Nile Crocodile