True Rush fans showed up to the newly designated Lee Lifeson Art Park, at 45 Princess Ave, in the rain. They started showing up at 8 am for the 1 pm ceremony, rejoicing Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson for being awarded the keys to Toronto.
In the sea of umbrellas, I was talking to a couple, John Hainey and fiancée Tammy Bland. They love so much, that they are getting married on the 21st of December – 2112.
Alex and Geddy showed up to the park while “Subdivisions” was playing. Jacob Moon opened the ceremony with his original version of “Subdivisions”. George Strombolopolous proceeded to do an interview with the honoured pair. Geddy was filled with pride because he mentioned, when you put your heart and soul into what you do, and you receive this kind of recognition, it makes it all worth it. Geddy and Alex reminisced about the 40th anniversary of their album 2112. They retold the story about this possibly being their last album together, if it did not do well for the record company. As you know, it was NOT their last album.
On a somber note, Geddy was quietly the crowd that the 40th anniversary tour may in fact , may have been their final tour. This has been an ongoing debate with the band for the past year. The fans were not happy to hear that, but Alex sort of promised more music in the future. George asked about some early memories about growing up in Willowdale. Geddy replied, “I remember this was the neighbourhood wher Alex first got me high”. George-“Your Moms are here”, followed by great laughter from the audience as well as Geddy and Alex’s Moms who were sitting right behind them. Other memories included playing Earl Haig, a school that sat right beside Lee Liifeson Art Park.
Councillor John Filion got up and explained how they came up with this tribute. As the park was being planned, the committee asked who was it going to be named after. It took about 3 seconds to say Geddy and Alex, because of their roots in Willowdale. The purpose of this park is to explore it creativity.
Mayor John Tory stood up next and let us know, we need more parks like this one from artists who do the city and the world true credit. Since being in office, John Tory has handed out 3 keys, one to Paul Beeston(The Blue Jays), Drake, followed by a bunch of boos, and now Rush- Loud Cheering!!! Even though Neil Peart is originally from St Catherines, there was a key for him as well. The Mayor went onto and acknowledge Rush helping out Toronto through the SARS crisis as well as helping Alberta during a serious flood. The Mayor, after a heartfelt speech presented the keys to Geddy and Alex. They looked very happy while they showed the keys to the fans. The audience was also happy to cheer loudly at their heroes who deserve these accolades. That is what we have been giving them for the past 40 plus years. Geddy went on to thank the Mayor, Willowdale and Toronto for all the years of support. Alex smiled with his mischievous smile and that was all that the fans needed. The ceremony finished with the song, “Closer to the Heart”. Alex and Geddy walked out to the elated fans and gladly signed autographs to the truly deserving fans who were five pounds heavier because of the rain.
On a quick and final note, I was stoked to have my copy of 2112 signed by both of them. This was the first album I ever heard by Rush, and it will always hold a special place in my heart: I will now just keep it closer to me.
Here are some images of the grand moment: