Toronto residents enjoy Olympic fun at Family Day events

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Toronto residents enjoy Olympic fun at Family Day events

Toronto families enjoyed winter games with an Olympic theme at a handful of Family Day events across the city on Monday.

Parents and children were able to take part in everything from curling to sledge hockey at CBC Toronto, as well as meeting and greeting Olympic athletes, watching an aerialist perform at Casa Loma and venturing out on the ice to try short track speed skating at an Etobicoke rink.

For Teresa Avarino, going with her two young daughters to a Family Day event with an Olympic theme made perfect sense.

"They're really into the Olympics," she said after snapping photos of her children on her smartphone. "We thought we would take in the town on Family Day." 

Avarino watched as her daughters tried their hand at curling in CBC Toronto's Atrium, where a free Olympic day of fun was organized. Activities included face painting, crafts and colouring and balancing on a snowboard simulator.

There was also Soohorang, a white tiger and one of the official mascots from the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, and a Junior Journalist contest with CBC Toronto host Dwight Drummond.

Sarina Li, 10, an aspiring young journalist, was thrilled to interview Drummond on an actual stage set up for Olympic programming. 

"He's one of my favourite journalists," the grade 4 student from Markham, Ont., said after being videotaped. "It was really fun."

According to the contest, the child who posed the best question to Drummond would get a prize package. The age range of the contest was four to 12 years. 

Meanwhile, at Casa Loma, families were able to play life-sized chess and inflatable basketball. Families could also watch Glisse on Ice, a figure skating entertainment company, do a special Olympic-themed show with mock judges, as well as an aerialist perform in the castle's Great Hall.

There was a flag on which families could write well wishes for Canadian Olympic athletes and it will be sent to the Canadian Olympic Committee.

People were also able to meet Canadian Winter Olympic athletes Jayna Hefford (hockey), Jennifer Botterill (hockey), Shelley-Ann Brown (bobsled) and Deidra Dionne (freestyle skier). Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman also shook hands and signed autographs.

Stacey Hawkins, marketing manager for Casa Loma, said the museum was promoting athleticism, sportsmanship and fitness as part of its Family Day programming this year. 

"Each year, Casa Loma does special programming for the Family Day Weekend, and with the 2018 Winter Olympics happening, it was the perfect time to theme our programming," she said.

Attendance was above average on the long weekend, she added. 

And at the Toronto Speed Skating Club, there was an open house at its short track speed skating rink on Monday afternoon, with tips and tricks from coaches.  

Families were able to try on short track speed skates and meet club members. Its rink, part of the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, an ice complex in Etobicoke, is NHL-sized. Short track speed skates have longer blades than do hockey or figure skates.

"We're doing this to promote the sport. It's like a public skate. It's really more of an open skate than a formal lesson," said Meryl Nelson, the club's registrar.

Nelson said speed skating gets much exposure and attention during the Winter Olympic Games. 

"The Olympic Games are the best time for us to promote our sport as it provides the widest audience for short track speed skating," she said.

"We have found that interest in speed skating peaks every four years and we want to make sure that the community knows that we are here and happy to have them try speed skating with us."

Family Day is held on the third Monday of February in Ontario.