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Where in Toronto: Bright Lights, Big Reindeer

The Swarovski tree and giant reindeer at the Toronto Eaton Centre (photo by Rasheed Clarke)

Each week, our intrepid interns reflect on life and times in the big city.

It’s amazing how Toronto residents go nuts at the first sight of snow. All it took was a few flakes falling yesterday morning for #snow to become a local trending topic on Twitter. That dusting didn’t really stick around, but the imminent arrival of the white stuff (along with the much-maligned early sunset) means it’s the time of year to test the power grid with millions of twinkling lights at the city’s festive displays.

The most unique setup I’ve seen so far has been at the Toronto Eaton Centre. While the mall is usually home to artist Michael Snow’s famous fiberglass geese, a few massive silver reindeer have found their way inside to graze near the Swarovski crystal wish tree. The spindly, sparkly creatures scattered throughout the shopping centre are part festive holiday decoration and part contemporary art installation, made up of dotted lights, shimmering ribbons and colourful stars. My colleague Alex, though, did point out that shoppers strolling into the Eaton Centre via the Yonge Street entrance near Roots are greeted by a giant reindeer’s derriere.

The Bay's holiday window display—along Queen Street west of Yonge (photo by Rasheed Clarke)

Venture a few steps south of the Eaton Centre and you’ll find The Bay’s holiday window display, which depicts Santa and his elves preparing for the jolly old man’s flight later this month. I had to press my nose against the glass to fully appreciate each vignette’s intricacies—like the nutcracker dolls being assembled in Santa’s workshop and the tiny stuffed animals peeking out of his sleigh.

Just about a couple of blocks away from The Bay, the lights get brighter and the spectacle gets bigger at Nathan Phillips Square. Skeletal trees sparkle, the skating rink shines beneath a blanket of golden lights, and the city’s Christmas fir towers in bands of green, red and white beside the violet glow emanating from the City Hall buildings. It was cold and rainy and deserted on the night I dropped by, but the scene had a certain serenity. That’ll change, of course, when skaters and other winter revellers fill into Nathan Phillips Square later on this month. Perhaps when the snow really starts falling.

—Rasheed Clarke

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