Rob Ford enjoyed a rare feel-good day in his oft-tumultuous mayoralty Tuesday, as he gamely hobnobbed with citizens at the city's New Year's Levee.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz, who fought a pitched battle with the mayor over the city's transit expansion plans last year, set the tone early, greeting the him warmly as she introduced her two young children to the assembled councillors.
As hundreds of people filed down a red carpet in the City Hall rotunda, Mr. Ford looked upbeat, posing for photographs and often tilting his head back to laugh.
Susan Johl, a 64-year-old nanny from the Beaches, said she was on the streetcar headed to the Eaton Centre, when she overheard fellow passengers talking about the Levee and decided to drop in.
"He's really down to earth. And no matter what happens to him, he's always genuine," she said of Mr. Ford.
Ryan Endoh, a 19-year-old college student from Scarborough, said it was Mr. Ford's colourful, oft-controversial administration that made him pay attention to city politics.
"Whether or not you support the mayor, everyone's become engaged," he said.
While most in the crowd seemed supportive of Mr. Ford, a handful of his opponents used the opportunity to give him a piece of their minds. Mary Hynes, 69, was one of them.
"I told him he needed a long, long rest – maybe 10 years – so he could give more time to his business and his family," she said after meeting him.
She may very well get her wish. Next week, the chief magistrate will try to persuade an appeals court to overturn a judge's order that he leave office for breaking conflict-of-interest rules.
And when he does, Mr. Ford will no doubt be hoping that the Levee, that promise of a fresh start, sets the tone for the year to come.