For many people waiting two hours to finally celebrate the life of former Mayor Rob Ford, this was their last chance.
A group of women who arrived at the Toronto Congress Centre 2 hours before opening began chanting, “Praise Rob, Praise Rob.” Singing and dancing, as if their favourite artist was about to perform inside.
Inside they would find tables and chairs set up, dutifully appointed Ford garb and a band, all to set the stage for one final moment to celebrate Rob Ford.
Today was a day of solemnity for those who loved the former mayor but the night was relegated to good cheer and remembrance. Hundreds of people, lining up around the block just before 6:00 o’clock at the Toronto Congress Centre tonight for what the Ford family dubbed, “A Celebration of Rob Ford’s Life.”
A celebration it was. Inside there was revelry and excitement, the Rob Ford bobbleheads even made another appearance, with the proceeds going towards the deadly disease that ended Rob’s life.
Speaking to many of the members of Ford Nation (often with tears in their eyes) they paint a picture of Rob Ford as more than a politician, closer to a personal hero that advocating for their forgotten way of life.
One man, emblazoned in Ford Nation garb wanted this festival to, “Be a message to City Council. Rob Ford won’t be forgotten.” Even on this day of remembrance many see Ford as both an every-man that gave a voice to a silent majority and a larger than life figure that represented a better way of living.
On either side of the band, photos and videos played on a projection screen showcasing the accomplishments Ford leaves including his inaugural speech when he was elected Mayor.
To end the night Doug spoke to the masses, thanking them intensively for their support assuring them, “Rob would have loved this party.” As Doug exited the stage, many in wheelchairs with canes in hand rushed the politician.
Grasping at him, clamoring for selfies, the same man who a few hours earlier was eulogizing his brother was now being mauled by adoring fans. Many who did get close enough to see the man were left crying.
Ford Nation has never been more alive.
As the night slowly comes to a close and the masses thin many more refuse to leave, dancing and sharing stories of the larger than life man many of them never met. The final image I have from the occasion, once the crowds disperse and the politicians go home is an elderly man gathering up flags that read.
Rob Ford. May 28, 1969-March 22, 2016. Best Mayor Ever.