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By Lauren Miele

Menacing storm clouds and the threat of a torrential downpour couldn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of Ryerson students marching through downtown last week.

The 51st Annual Parade and Picnic was the grand finale to Ryerson’s Week of Welcome. The celebration kicked off with a parade down Yonge Street towards the waterfront.

Drumming group the Samba Squad led the parade and provided the backbeat for everyone who danced down the world’s longest street. Drivers cursed, pedestrians stared and U of T students working Shinerama jeered as Ryerson’s various course unions, sports groups, faculties and students marched through the downtown core.

Before hopping on the ferry, student groups were judged by a panel of Rye celebrities — including our own Jessica Lewis — on their spirit, number of people, creativity of presentination and awesomeness.

The winning group was the graphic communication management students, while engineering and early childhood education came a close second and third.

Students made their way to Toronto Island where a barbecue and concert awaited partygoers on Hanlan’s Point.

MTV’s Gilson Lubin played host for the day, introducing performances by singer Zaki Ibrahim, electronica group Thunderheist, DJ’s Team Canada and Supreme Soul from America’s Best Dance Crew.

Ibrahim performed first, but in spite of her beautiful voice, she had a tough time getting a reaction from the crowd.

Thunderheist took the stage following Ibrahim and gave the crowd a stage show to be excited about.

Singer Isis stole the spotlight, climbing down into the front rows and even crowd surfing. All the while Grahm Zilla’s thumping beats gave everyone a chance to get their dance on.

Hip-hop artist Kardinal Offishall headlined the concert, choosing Ryerson over a gig he was asked to do at the University of Toronto.

“Ryerson, you guys are fucking great!” he declared during his performance.

In the end, some students noted the 1,300 plus crowd was a bit smaller in years past but the show itself was definitely top notch.

“The parade was better last year, but the show was better this year,” said Bojan Balmazvic, a second- year geographic analysis student.

The sentiment may be surprising considering the star power of last year’s headlines, k-os and M.I.A. However, it goes to to show that the allure of local, homebrewed performers can can easily connect with the student body.

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