Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bobblehead mania

Fans and foes line up for Ford dolls

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TORONTO -- 'Twas the Friday before Christmas and all around city hall, more than 1,000 people stood in line awaiting the second coming of a plastic Rob Ford doll.

Bobblehead Bedlam II was an even bigger hit than last month's inaugural edition, when the clickety-nodding figures quickly sold out.

This time, the lineup that began long before sunrise, snaked around the large rotunda and halfway around the building on a dreary, drizzly day.

"I stood in line for two hours for the last bobbleheads and didn't get one," Corrie Balogh explained as she waited patiently outside.

"He's a hero. He's awesome. He parties. He's a lot more real than anyone else."

Up front, Peter Roil candidly admitted he was looking to buy a bobblehead to flip. He was, he said, no fan of the scandal-riven mayor, who has admitted among many things to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs and getting himself into drunken stupors.

"I can't believe he still has an access card to the building, because of a very sketchy series of events," Roil said. "We're here to meet pseudo-celebrities and to make donations to cancer charities, to receive pieces of Chinese plastic that vaguely look the like the mayor; we're here to get a photograph with the mayor. He's a juggernaut of celebrity of the political arena."

Ford's arrival sparked lusty cheers from the throng as he glad-handed a circle inside before settling down to sign the $20 dolls -- some say a slimmed-down version -- with proceeds going to a cancer charity.

A relaxed Ford, who has been stripped of most of his mayoral powers by council for his admitted misdeeds, took what he called the unprecedented show of support in stride.

"I'm not a celebrity," Ford said. "It's very humbling. I've never seen this before. I really appreciate the support. I'm just an average person."

Despite the scandals that have plagued his tenure and made him the butt of late-night comedy shows across the continent, Ford pointed at the waiting crowd.

It's a clear sign voters still believe in him and plan to vote for him next year, he said.

"I just can't wait for the election," he said. "Let the people speak."

Several in the lineup said they wanted a bobblehead as a keepsake of a time that put Toronto firmly on the international map even if it might well leave historians scratching their heads.

"It's getting cold now, but I think it'll be worth it years down the road when I look back at this," said Adam Smith as he stood in the gloom.

Clutching his prized doll, Karim Gharibo declared the wait "absolutely" worth the long wait.

"It's a collector's item. Something to remember this episode in time, history."

Those who were unable to buy a bobblehead this time around -- supplies again were limited -- were able to register for a third edition.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2013 A23

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