Montreal’s festival season starts off chilly, damp

MONTREAL- Rina Patel studies event planning at John Abbott College. As she walked down Crescent Street, she surveyed the tents and kiosks being gently pelted with rain.

Turnout for revellers, “is going to be a lot less now, and even as you can see, there are a lot less people. I mean my friend was just saying, usually it’s so much more packed that this,” she said.

Her professors tell her they have a contingency plan in place. Many merchants in the downtown core have been doing just that. Crescent Street bar owner Ziggy Eichenbaum, for instance, has had to fire up an array of wall-mounted electrified space heaters on his terrace in order to deal with the chilly weather.

“People won’t walk around and go shopping at the sidewalk sales and whatnot,” he said from his bar, Ziggy’s. Eichenbaum still remained bullish on what he expected to take in during the weekend. “People have to drink. So they always come for a drink.”

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The Canadian Grand Prix has an estimated annual economic impact of around $90 million, much of which involves hotel rooms, restaurant receipts and shopping. But some of the impact could be dampened by unseasonably clammy weather which has squatted over Montreal for days.

“When it’s nice out, everyone just wants to be outside, whether it’s specifically to eat or to shop,” said Talia Angeletti, who was staffing an outdoor tent at the Pain d’Or on St-Laurent. “For us there’s just a lot less business.”

Race fans hope that Sunday’s event won’t be drenched.

“I’m hoping this blows over, it’s been raining for the last three days, so I hope this moves out,” said Bill McCartney, a tourist from Ontario. “I hate it when they race in the rain, you know.”

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