By Lory Diaz
Earlier this month, the Torontonicity team was invited to Community Rocks 2016, the fundraiser for Community Living Toronto, held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. The theme for this year’s party with a purpose was Mardi Gras! The party was held on December 3, 2016, which marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This means that the Community Rocks crowd was celebrating with friends, families, supporters, and allies from around the world as well!
The Community Living Program was established in 1948 as a way of providing positive alternatives to placing adults and children with intellectual disabilities in an institution. They assist with finding accessible and meaningful ways to live, remain active, and participate in their communities. The work this organization does is incredibly important, which is why their biennial celebration is key to maintaining support and programming for individuals and their families.
Ben Mulroney was asked to return as host, and reminded the crowd that great cities aren’t built by government, but by groups and organizations such as Community Living Toronto. He introduced the first performers of the night, The Happy Pals, who have been performing New Orleans style jazz together since 1970. The band started the party out right, getting people to move, dance, and let loose!
Up next was Canadian darlings, The Sam Roberts Band who performed a truly intimate set full of energy! The crowd was having such a great time that a dance party started at the front of the stage. Sam Roberts himself couldn’t help but join and eventually danced his way across the stage connecting with various people in the crowd.
The French Market featured art, jewelry, cards, and other handcrafted goods created by Community Living Toronto clients.
The party continued late into the night with DJ “Raptor” Marc spinning some great dance tunes while guests enjoyed delicious snacks, treats, and drinks! Seventh Heaven assisted with catering, while Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery and Beau’s Beer took care of the drinks. I went right for the beautiful and incredibly tempting dessert table, which was covered in everything from cinnamon buns, brownies, and bread-pudding to fudge, cookies, and fresh fruit!
I then ventured over to try signature southern Louisiana dish, gumbo! Traditionally made of a thicker and stronger stock, celery, bell peppers, okra, onions, meat and shellfish. This was a flavourful dish, focused on well-rounded spices instead of presentation. Sometimes the greatest things are the simplest, and they remind you of home cooking.
Alongside gumbo, BBQ chicken wings were available for guests! Saucy and finger licking good!
I have to say that the Cremahh artisan gelato ladies had my favourite treat of the night. Their gelato flavours run from rich and creamy, to light and refreshing. My top choices were their chocolate hazelnut, pistachio, and mojito! Their small gelato bar is cute and beautifully presented.
At the end of the night, the Community Living Toronto group announced that they had exceeded their 2016 fundraising goal of $600,000! Since the first Community Rocks party in 2008, the event has generated $3 million in support of this amazing cause. I would like to mention that if you aren’t able to help the organization financially but are keen on the cause, volunteer opportunities are available throughout the year. You too can help build someone’s skillset and help them remain active within the community. But if you can party with a purpose, the Torontonicity team will see you out on the dance floor!