TORONTO - The annual Gem City Day, sponsored by the Focus in Toronto organization, will take place Saturday along with several other events that day.
The event, centered around the city gazebo commons at the corner of Third and Market streets, also will coincide with the Robert Urich Memorial Race/Walk, a Safety Day demonstration by the city's safety forces and the program and fireworks at Clark Hinkle Field later that evening.
Brenda Cich, committee chairman, said the event will be similar to those of previous years and begins with an open breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Toronto Masonic Lodge, 202 S. Third St.
The Anything on Wheels Kids and Pets Patriotic Parade will begin the day with lineup at the gazebo at 9:30 a.m., and the parade to begin at 10 a.m.
"There will be first-, second- and third-place prizes for kids and pets," said Cich, adding winners will be awarded in two categories - "anything on wheels" and "patriotic pets." "This is an 'anything on wheels' parade. Kids are invited to decorate their bikes, electric cars, wagons, scooters - anything on wheels is welcome. It's also a pet dress-up parade/contest. We've had some very unique and inventive entries in the past, and I'm looking forward to seeing the variety of entries this year."
The food court opens at 10 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. and will feature a variety of foods from local vendors, said Cich. And from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be carnival games for kids including inflatable games.
At 11 a.m. the Kid's Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest is scheduled at the gazebo with registration to begin at 10 a.m., Cich said. Prizes will be awarded for the most inventive, she added. Games also will be part of the fun, and T-shirts will be available for sale, Cich said.
"From the contests, inflatables and games for the kids to the cornhole tournament for adults, there is something for everyone," said Cich. "We'll end the downtown festival with the annual Turtle Race at Newburg Landing Park beginning at 3 p.m. with the owner of the winning turtle receiving $500 cash. Cash prizes also will be awarded for second- and third-place winners. Others that place will be awarded with prizes, depending on the donations we receive this year."
Turtle certificates for adoption are available at Henry's Dairy Aisle, Sally's Hallmark and Yummy's Homemade Ice Cream, said Cich.
Games will include a cornhole tournament at noon in the Toronto First Presbyterian Church parking lot next to the gazebo, and those participating should sign up at the information booth by 11 a.m. The cost is $10 per team, with a minimum age of 12. A food court will be available at Sloane Station Square, she added.
Also beginning at noon will be the kids' watermelon eating contest, with first-, second- and third-place prizes in age groups 4-7 and 8-12. Scheduled for 12:30 p.m. is a kids' seed-spitting contest with prizes awarded for first-, second- and third-place prizes in age groups 4-7 and 8-12, Cich added.
At 2:30 p.m. will be a wing-eating contest between the Toronto Police and fire departments, according to Cich.
"Proceeds from the Turtle race and Gem City Day T-shirts fund 100 percent of everything we do each year - Gem City Day, the Christmas parade, the Festival of the Arts and our $500 community service scholarship, as well as the many contributions we make to community organizations and those in need throughout the year," Cich said. "We appreciate the continued support of the community."
In case of extreme heat, Cich said the event would be shortened, with the parade held at 10 a.m. and children's games to be held immediately after. The Turtle Race would be postponed until a later date, she added.
Cich said details and a full schedule of events as well as updates are available at www.FocusInToronto.com.