The answer was fresh air in the form of Light Up the Square.
Complimentary gifts from sponsors and children's games are common constituents of the event as well. Obtained from one year were touchscreen gloves and hot chocolate!
A short lineup formed at the Allstate booth, where population of ballots with personal info would earn a chance at pachinko and potential prizes of pop sockets, pens, and a free eco-bag.
"Do you think it's the same one we saw at the Brampton Santa Claus Parade?" I humorously posed the question to the sleepy polar bear, who was too invested in observing the lineup for photos with Santa to hear me.
After our turn through Passage, we headed back to the Maple Lodge Farms tent. Given the short lineup, we weren't sure whether the dogs were complimentary or not. The sleepy polar bear had initially suggested splitting one, to which I had immediately refused. Soon, we learned of its gratuitous nature, and naturally took to one each. Individual ketchup and mustard packets resied on the table, each in their respective baskets. Participants could easily dress their own dogs, then toss the empty packets into the garbage, which was conveniently placed next to the table to encourage proper disposal procedures.
Our hot dog turned cold as the evening temperature stooped. While I hadn't anticipated needing either, I reached into my tote to retrieve both my hand warmer packs and knitted toque from Capilano to combat the increasingly chilly conditions.
Our order had also come with a bonus Brwownie, which had apparently been constructed out of error and consequentially bestowed upon us. This one wasn't consumed until at least thirty minutes later, at which point the dough had turned rigid and radiated the stench of fryer grease. The brownie bites had been a nice, chewy touch, though the same remark could not be extended to the miniature white chocolate cylinders - toppings we had assumed to be mini marshmallows. On the bright side, the Nutella had solidified, no longer a sloshy, sticky mess.
A handful of other vendors had also implemented QR codes at their stalls. In spite of this technological incorporation, it remains a mystery whether the process was, in fact, made more efficient. Our order from The Arepa Republic surely was not.
Following a barely audible speech from the Councillorof Ward 4, inclusive of a statement of acknowledgement for use of Indigenous lands, the tree was subjected to a gradual ascent of brilliance at 7:20 PM. Red and green lights flashed from either end of the tree and lights flickered from the bottom up in a music-accompanied sequence. There was adequate buildup to the lighting, unlike the light switch-like glow of Toronto's.
Another noteworthy aspect was the availability of breathing room and absence of pushing and shoving. We vowed to skip Distillery's ceremony next year, and just take part in tree lightings locally instead.
Onto the template we would design and colour our choice of cake slice. Next, the shape would be cut out, creased at its connecting edges, and sealed with an LED insert inside - much like the ones used in my KCON fanboards.
As opposed to following through with the original mission though, curiosity caught me gazing upon the assortment of Charlotte Tilbury products behind Holt Renfrew's giant magenta teddy bear.