Toronto: Hey, we’re having some fun now!

Summer’s drawing to a close and major metropolitan areas from Minneapolis to Moscow are casting wide nets for last-minute tourists, boasting first-rate entertainment, state-of-the-art transit systems and pristine park lands, along with lovable locals who are friendlier than the munchkins who trotted out to greet Dorothy and Toto.

Whether it’s San Diego or Sarasota, community boosters are rolling out the red carpet to attract tourist dollars, touting the best and brightest their cities have to offer.

Then there’s Toronto, the Canadian community that prides itself on being “The world within a city.”

Although folks in Toronto are justifiably proud of their hotels and theaters, they also take pride in some attractions that might not immediately pull in the average summertime sojourner from Scranton.

Looking for a weird time, sailor? Look no farther than Toronto…

According to the city’s latest tourism news letter, Toronto is the place to be if you fancy the latest in moose art, hippopotamus transit, gross bodily functions and a historical look at Canada as viewed through its footwear.

No, I’m not making this up. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried – it took the madcap zanies of Toronto to put this little package together. It’s real, it’s now, don’t miss it…

Let’s start with those moose.

Apparently taking a hint from Chicago’s bovine art bounty, downtown Toronto has turned the moose loose with 325 life-sized moose created by local artists. There’s a moose shuttle service so you don’t miss a single one, and a moose-inspired shopping spree, the “Wild Moose Chase.”

“Everyone on the tour gets goodies including a pair of moose antlers to wear during their adventure,” enthuses the Toronto Briefs newsletter.

(See? I told you I couldn’t make this stuff up…)

Toronto moose mania continues through October.

Then there’s the newest – and grossest – thing at Toronto’s Ontario Place: “Grossology – the Impolite Science of the Human Body.”

“It’s a fun, interactive and educationally stimulating exhibition explaining exactly how and why the body creates all that oozy, mushy, crusty, scaly and stinky stuff,” Toronto tourism authorities report.

The grossology exhibit continues through Sept. 4 at Ontario Place. If you can’t make it to Toronto by then, I can probably direct you to a tavern in San Pablo which has a similar exhibition nearly every Friday night. You’ll have to leave the kids at home, though.

Once you’ve been thoroughly grossed out, consider an excursion on one of Toronto’s stylish new “hippo” buses.

The new, specially-designed hippos are built to carry up to 40 adventuresome passengers on amphibious tours of Toronto. They’re even available for private charter.

For a more educational afternoon in multifaceted Toronto, stop by The Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor Street West. There you’ll see “On Canadian Ground, a remarkable account of early Canadian footwear.”

Yes, all too often we think of Canada as nothing more than our big buddy to the north, not giving a moment’s consideration to the footwear that won the wilderness.

The exhibit continues through next June, so there’s still plenty of time to strap on your moose antlers, flag down a hippo bus and tell the driver to hang a left on Bloor Street. Toronto will be yours, amigo…

Originally published August 20, 2000

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