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Op-Ed: Taste Of Little Italy 2015 during Johnny Lombardi's centennial Special

By Rosemary Richings     Jun 22, 2015 in Entertainment
Toronto - This year was the first time the CHIN Picnic and Taste Of Little Italy worked together. But how did this affect the Taste Of Little Italy Festival overall? Recently, Digital Journal paid a visit to find out.
Above is College Street s statue of the Late Johnny Lombardi. This year s Taste Of Little Italy fest...
Above is College Street's statue of the Late Johnny Lombardi. This year's Taste Of Little Italy festival celebrated the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Both the collaboration between CHIN Picnic and Taste Of Little Italy and the existence of both CHIN Radio and CHIN picnic are thanks to this guy. His statue stands proudly, in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood in order to commemorate the late Johnny Lombardi, the founder of CHIN Radio, and CHIN Picnic.
Although Johnny Lombardi died in 2002, his work with CHIN Radio and CHIN Picnic earned him the label that he still has today, "the pioneer of multicultural broadcasting." Since 1967 CHIN Radio has streamed radio programs in 32 different languages, 60 hours a week.
Toronto’s Little Italy District  on the first day of the Taste Of Little Italy Festival/ CHIN Picn...
Toronto’s Little Italy District, on the first day of the Taste Of Little Italy Festival/ CHIN Picnic 2015.
Johnny Lombardi was raised in Little Italy. Some of the Lombardi clan — including Johnny Lombardi’s son, Lenny Lombardi — have lived there for several generations. CHIN Picnic’s return to Little Italy commemorates the 100th anniversary of Johnny Lombardi’s birth, through bringing CHIN Picnic to the place where he grew up.
CHIN Picnic was the first inclusive multicultural festival in Toronto and this year’s festival was a pleasant homecoming for Lombardi’s centennial celebration.
Above is an image of the Taste Of Little Italy Festival s crowd  as they explore the closed off stre...
Above is an image of the Taste Of Little Italy Festival's crowd, as they explore the closed off streets of Toronto's Little Italy district. Nearby a vendor is selling fresh shucked oysters, amongst the crowd.
Amongst the Taste Of Little Italy crowd conversations in a wide variety of languages occurred simultaneously.
Above is a crowd view of a Taste Of Little Italy street performance. While the singer  located in th...
Above is a crowd view of a Taste Of Little Italy street performance. While the singer, located in the middle of the crowd, sang pop ballads in English, nearby street performances, in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish attracted a crowd that was equally as large.
A majority of the street performances attracted large crowds. Many of the performances appealed to both native speakers of whatever language the singers and band members chose to perform in, and people with no understanding of the language of the performers’ music and lyrics whatsoever.
The street performers  located in the foreground managed to attract a crowd of mostly elderly couple...
The street performers, located in the foreground managed to attract a crowd of mostly elderly couples, eager to dance to their music.
Taste Of Little Italy performances such as this one perfectly capture the vibe of the average Taste Of Little Italy crowd. All it takes is eagerness to get lost in the fun, and the music, to feel at home amongst the Taste Of Little crowd. Couples danced to the music, and nobody questioned whether or not they were dancing to music performed in their native language, because everyone shared mutual eagerness to dance, or at the very least mingle with the crowd, while getting lost in the moment.
Vivoli restaurant  an Italian restaurant  in the heart of Toronto s Little Italy district  during th...
Vivoli restaurant, an Italian restaurant, in the heart of Toronto's Little Italy district, during the Taste Of Little Italy Festival.
While multilingual performances filled the air nearby popular restaurant such as College street hot spot, Vivoli thrived through creating a welcoming, relaxed, outdoor patio for Taste Of Little Italy visitors, of all ages and backgrounds, with one thing in common: their eagerness to savour the warmth of sunny, mid summer evening. Meanwhile nearby tents and tables took advantage of the festival’s popularity, and diverse clientele, through selling food that’s a genuine reflection of Little Italy’s identity year round.
Crowds gather at Barilla’s pasta sampling booth  in order to try pasta samples  courtesy of Barill...
Crowds gather at Barilla’s pasta sampling booth, in order to try pasta samples, courtesy of Barilla, one of Taste Of Little Italy 2015’s sponsors.
Local Small Business  College Fruit Market  selling fruit to Taste Of Little Italy visitors.
Local Small Business, College Fruit Market, selling fruit to Taste Of Little Italy visitors.
Cooks prepare meat for nearby  hungry customers  waiting patiently in line.
Cooks prepare meat for nearby, hungry customers, waiting patiently in line.
This year’s Taste Of Little Italy was an opportunity to celebrate not only Italian Canadian culture, and Lombardi’s birthday, but also the diverse cultures that co-exist in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood.
the entrance of the CHIN Radio building  in Toronto s Little Italy district.
the entrance of the CHIN Radio building, in Toronto's Little Italy district.
The exploration of the 2015 Taste Of Little Italy ended with a walk by CHIN Radio headquarters. At the end of the evening one thing was immediately clear: 2015 wasn’t just the year where Taste Of Little Italy and CHIN Picnic worked together, it was also the year where Little Italy showed signs of reaching its prime.
As workers construct the CHIN Picnic 2015 stage nearby  a vendor  folds and sorts soccer clothing an...
As workers construct the CHIN Picnic 2015 stage nearby, a vendor folds and sorts soccer clothing and accessories, from all over the world.
This year’s festival demonstrated that a hundred years after Johnny Lombardi’s birth, Little Italy, and Toronto overall, has achieved the immense level of multicultural pride, vibrancy, and sense of community that Johnny Lombardi encouraged and celebrated, throughout his lifetime.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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