Toronto residents aren’t afraid of snowstorms, or cold weather, or the possibility of getting stuck in a sudden blizzard on the highway. The fact is we all have to get outside at some point each winter and February is a good month to scout frozen ground and do fun things with our kids. On Saturday the 18th we drove out to Muscleman’s Lake to the Tiny Seedlings’ annual charity event, Sno Much Fun.
This seasonal attraction is held on the landscaped frontend of a clean fill site north of the city. This spot is the dumping ground for excess dirt from major development projects all across the Golden Horseshoe. Tiny Seedlings was created as to apologize to local residents for the trucks and noise they bring to the area; there’s nothing toxic being buried. It’s just an annoying enterprise, albeit entirely necessary and its set to continue until 2050 when the hole in the ground here may or may not be filled. That’s why there are politicians in the crowd and everything is free.
The unlikely hilltop venue was the site of a winter fire show, a solo act by Maggie Haze, amidst other seasonal attractions. Maggie Haze is a film and theatre actor, a burlesque dancer and circus performer who’s also something of a stunt woman. She’s a versatile and charismatic thespian and who loves the spotlight, and readers can see a lot of more of her on Instagram @maggie.haze and read about the February fire show on the Northfire Circus website blog.
The chief executive officer at United Soils said hello and made sure we found the refreshments. Allan was busily rushing about getting things ready in time. An inflatable curling rink was unfurled and set up to accommodate local celebrities, curling champions Lauren Wasylkiw and Shane Konings. Beside them were science students from École Catholique Pape-François and X Ray the magician walked among the throngs dazzling onlookers with his artic sorcery. There was shuffleboard table set-up and a ring toss game and balloons and a bonfire blazed in a purpose-built firepit. The main attraction was a small toboggan hill the perfect size and shape for kids under age twelve.
The caterers dispensed hot drinks, muffins and chocolate chip cookies in a ready-made canteen where they were warm enough they could remove their jackets. They also bequeathed chicken soup and bread rolls and everything was individually wrapped which is a holdover from the pandemic.
Maggie Haze is an all-weather trooper who appeared unaffected by the wind, despite her tight-fitting costume which offered little protection. She crouched in the snow and did all her usual gymnastics, writhing on her backside to keep flaming hula hoops orbiting her legs at the highpoint of her show. Sudden gusts extinguished her fiery crown but not her balls on strings which made lovely smoke trails in the frigid atmosphere.
The kids gathered around to watch her show after she told them she was going to eat fire. They were amazed and impacted by the spectacle of her bringing the flames so close to her mouth. One child even asked afterwards how she did it and she told them its all in the tongue.
Maggie played it safe, seldom venturing to the front of the stage in the windy weather. Instead she dazzled us all from a safe distance and although sudden squalls periodically suffocated her flames they never dampened her spirit. A sustained blast extinguished her fiery crown and that blow seemed deliberately sent by a higher power. But all her other toys stayed alight, including fist-sized black balls tied to long strings and the carbonized wool wicks on her flaming hula hoops. It was marvelous to see her gyrate and keep three burning rings circling her body and in that moment, with Jared’s music pumping in the background, she held everyone’s eyes and nobody was cold anymore. We were glued to every move and her laughter and gymnastics warmed our hearts.