A pack of furry, pint-sized grinches have stolen the Christmas spirit from Mel Lastman Square.
The trees and the skaters are still there, but they're no longer bathed in the glow of the season — something Coun. John Filion blames on some particularly crafty squirrels.
The squirrels have been chewing through the wires holding up lights that normally decorate the North York park's trees, he says.
"I believe it totally has to do with one or more squirrels who perhaps don't like Christmas.
It first started two years ago. At first just a few strands went dark, but it soon turned into a virtual blackout. Last season, the city brought in a cherry picker to replace the extinguished lights.
But Filion says it proved no match for the wee scrooges.
"Less than two days, and they were not working."
Not everyone shares the councillor's theory.
Justin Eccleston walks by the square each day and he says he has a hard time believing such a small creature could cause so much damage.
"We have some savage squirrels out here," he says, laughing. "Does the city have to get rid of the squirrels?"
Others are hoping for a Christmas miracle, saying it's a bit gloomy in the square.
"It's a nice time of year, you know, see the lights, see the trees," says Joe Behar. He likes to strap on his skates and get into the festive spirit.
'Squirrel proof' decorations
Filion says the city hopes to get some "squirrel-proof" lights up shortly. They've just started to install multi-coloured floodlights to set the trees and buildings aglow.
And if squirrels take down the latest lights, Filion says they're at ground level and will be much easier to fix.
It's an important tradition to the neighbourhood, he says.
"It makes you feel good," he says. "Going right back to being a kid — most people get the warm fuzzies."