Saturday night drew record crowd



Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa


Gina Loulou Molek enjoys some tabouleh — a Lebanese salad dish — during the 17th annual Lebanese Fun Festival at St. Elias Cathedral yesterday. The spectacular delicacies proved such a huge drawing card of the five-day festival that it ran out of food on Saturday night.


Yolanda Hanna could only describe the atmosphere during the final two days of the Lebanese Festival as “flaming.”

After poor festival weather on Thursday, and so much rain Friday morning that organizers were preparing to scale down and move the festival indoors, the sun shone and drew huge crowds to the five-day event before it wrapped up last night.

“Everyone was in such a good mood,” said Hanna, who is the festival co-chair. “The volunteers were excited to be here. We had so many people here — thousands — we ran out of food.”

Sue Paruch, president of the St. Elias parish council, said there were more people at the festival on Saturday than have come during the entire four days combined in previous years.

“Last night was a record breaker, for sure,” she said of the Saturday night crowd.

Besides being the benefactor of the festival, St. Elias Cathedral is also one of the attractions, with guided tours of the building.

“(The church) is gorgeous and there’s so much history.” said Donna Boyd.

For many of the nights, most of the crowd was non-Lebanese, said Hannah. She credits the more than 200 volunteers and their openness to share their culture with the rest of the city for drawing crowds.

“It’s really nice to see everyone interact and learn from each other,” said Hanna.

For a non-Lebanese visitor, Hanna said the food will make the biggest impression.

“Everybody (enjoys) tabouleh … and Shawarma, it’s great.” she said.

Food was what brought Bill Byrne and his family to the festival. They came for supper but were surprised by how big the festival was.

“I did not expect all the rides and music,” said Byrne. “There’s a lot more all round entertainment here.”

money raised

  • Sue Paruch, president of the St. Elias parish council, believes the festival will raise more than $60,000 for the cathedral.