Buskerfest saw the closing of Yonge Street from College to Queen from Thursday through Sunday at the end of August. Clowns, jugglers, acrobats and contortionists performed their acts surrounded by huge crowds, occasionally enlisting audience members to participate in some of the tricks. For the more popular acts that were already in progress, it was difficult to see over the multiple rows of people. That's when you wished you were a cute little kid who could squeeze between the legs of adults to get to the front, without incurring any bad feelings. We attended Buskerfest with a friend and her three young sons, who had no trouble finding their way through the crowd to get a front-row viewpoint for each performance. Hats were passed around at the end of each show in order to collect money for the buskers, who encouraged people to donate bills ($5, $10, $20) but would gratefully accept whatever was offered. From the looks of the hoards swarming up to contribute, it seemed like these entertainers did quite well at the event.
It has been so much fun being able wander around and enjoy the various downtown areas without worrying about motor vehicles. Having some streets temporarily or periodically closed for a festival is a good start, but Toronto should have more permanent, pedestrian-only areas in their downtown core, emulating districts in many European cities including Dublin's Grafton Street and Vienna's Innere Stadt, or North American ones like Manhattan's Broadway and Boston's Downtown Crossing. Such areas are great for businesses since they are easily accessible by transit and allow people to amble around and spend their money. Toronto should consider making the roads forming the touristy downtown shopping areas of Kensington Market and Yorkville to be permanent pedestrian-only streets, or at least pedestrian-only for longer periods of time.