honest eds party

A massive farewell party is happening at Honest Ed's

Honest Ed's will close its doors for good at the end of 2016, leaving a gaping hole at the intersection of Bathurst and Bloor. But before you get all teary eyed, put on your dancing shoes because one Toronto group is hosting a goodbye party of epic proportions inside the massive department store space.

The Centre for Social Innovation is throwing Toronto for Everyone, which describes itself as the first, last and only event at Honest Ed's before it's demolished. This festival, which runs from February 23 to 26 will include a market, a dance party and a slew of multi-disciplinary programs - the organizers are currently soliciting submissions and are open to suggestions from all Torontonians.

That's because, as executive director of the CSI Adil Dhalla tells us, the event's all about inclusivity. "We saw what was really an incredible opportunity to bring the city together and ultimately commemorate something that has been iconic to our narrative of Toronto," he says. "And hopefully do something to kind of carry the legacy forward."

He describes Honest Ed's as a place where everyone's welcome, no matter who you are. It's especially important to newcomers and most Torontonians have a soft spot for the space. He says the CSI hopes the event honours the store's legacy and also creates a conversation about what's happening in Toronto right now.

"We have a lot of new developments, and in order for that to happen, a lot of old things are being closed and broken down and moved out of the way," he says. "I say this is as much about the past and the future as it is about the present. And the present is about us having conversations about the experience of a city in transition."

Dhalla hopes the submissions will shape the event, even though there are already a few programs in place. Toronto for Everyone will be giving 10 artists a seven-day residency inside Honest Ed's. They'll literally get the chance to use the store's walls as their canvas.

Along with the farewell party happening on February 25, there will be a market and community hub open for the duration of the festival.

And Dhalla notes the theme of inclusivity is even more relevant now than ever before, especially in light of recent events south of the border. "The magic of Honest Ed's was that it didn't matter who you were, you could shop there," he says.

This is indicative of Toronto as a whole. "When we talk about Toronto and what makes Toronto special, it's the fact that everyone here, regardless of who you are, can belong. And we feel those experiences every day in the city, but what we haven't had before is a large-scale event that anchors in that idea."

Photo by Ferit Onurlu via the blogTO Flickr pool.


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