So this is what freedom looks like?
Well, partial freedom at least!
The big question out on Toronto’s finally opened up patios was is this freedom temporary?
Pub owners like Regan Irvine, of The Irv on Carlton St., have seen patios opened before during this bizarre almost year-and-a-half of pandemic lockdowns only to see them closed down thanks to a new wave of COVID-19.
So pub owners are holding their breath and hoping for the best.
But long suffering patrons, who have not been able to do much of anything for so long, were not worrying about the past or the future. They were savouring the moment.
“We really missed this so much,” said Julia Chavez, who was one of the lucky ones to get a perfect spot inside the famous Cafe Diplomatico patio at the corner of Clinton and College Sts. in the heart of Little Italy Friday.
“It couldn’t be more perfect,” she added.
With her aunt Veronica Chavez, Julia polished off a pitcher of Sangria while watching all the fun unfold in the area during the big Euro 2020 opening match between Italy and Turkey.
They were not there for the game. They were coming anyway.
“We live in the area,” said Veronica. “This is our spot.”
It was a popular one. And the most popular person in Toronto Friday may have been special events doorman Stefano Torchia who had the task of sorting out the tables and moving the lines through. It was busy.
But people were in a good mood and there was no complaining. People just wanted to get a piece of this little piece of normal.
Next door at Utopia, Victor Pokinko and Lauren Vandervoort enjoyed their first outside draft beer on the patio in a long time and savoured how special it is.
“We have planned this for two weeks,” said Lauren, who along with Victor was taking a break from work at the Bad Hat Theatre, which they are hoping to open soon as well.
This was a day of positive vibes.
It was the same kind of spirit at The Irv, the kind of place where not only does everybody know the regulars name but they also know where they live, what they order and who they cheer for.
They are like family to Regan, who often has talked about how much he misses his family.
The other development of this day was the fact that small retailers were able to open up some of their footprint again and the customers responded by lining up patiently and supporting these long struggling businesses.
It’s not lost on anybody that a fourth wave could come along and change this sense of living again, so in many ways they were soaking up the liberty even more than usual.
Few wanted to talk about perhaps one day there being vaccine passports needed to even go onto a patio.
No this was about living in the now. This was patio life coming to life.
This was about free to go on one once again for the first time in a long time.