Supporters cheered and critics jeered as an energetic-looking Rob Ford mingled with Toronto revellers Tuesday, a day after his official return from a stint in rehab.
Marching in a Canada Day parade in the city's east end, the scandal-plagued Toronto mayor was greeted with shouts of "disgrace" and "resign" from some in the crowd, which he brushed off by wishing friend and foe alike the best on the country's 147th birthday.
Ford seemed in high spirits despite his detractors and said he was happy to be back.
"It feels great. Absolutely great. Fantastic," he said while his aides handed out mini "Ford Nation" flags and magnets to the crowd.
His march along the parade route was slow and halting, leaving him lagging behind rivals John Tory and Olivia Chow as a steady stream of fans stopped to take their picture with him and shake his hand.
"He looks relaxed, and I think there's a lot of Torontonians who believe in him, and we're hoping that he's successful," supporter Helen Papathanasakis told CBC News.
Some parents had their children pose with the mayor, and Ford himself brought his young son along to the event.
Others were less enthusiastic.
"It's a travesty to have him in the East York parade," said Elinor Mahoney. "I just don't think I can stand here and not say something against his presence."
"I don't get the mindset of people who want to introduce their kids to him. It's like introducing them to some tyrant from past times."
Onlooker Sean Davey said Ford should have stayed away from office until his personal issues were resolved.
"The mayor just needs to go home and take a break from everything for a good few years," said Davey.
Shirtless jogger confronts Ford
Ford was at one point confronted by local resident Joe Killoran — a Toronto-area teacher who was apparently out for a jog when he crossed paths with the mayor's entourage.
Killoran hurled questions and accusations at Ford while the mayor's staff attempted to intercede.
"Answer one of the million questions people have for you," Killoran said. "People have a million questions about your lying and your corruption."
Ford did not respond to Killoran. Someone in the crowd asked if he was working for one of Ford's political rivals.
"Do I look like I'm with a campaign?" Killoran, who was shirtless at the time, responded. "I'm an East York guy out for a jog."
Ford did not answer questions of substance during his public appearances on Tuesday, which included an afternoon parade with Chinese-Canadians, but is scheduled to make a string of media appearances on Wednesday.
"Every major media outlet is going to have an opportunity to sit down, one on one, and have a chance to ask those questions," said Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor's brother and campaign manager.
Ford's interview with CBC's Dwight Drummond will stream live at CBC.ca on Wednesday afternoon — the exact time has yet to be determined — and will also air during the CBC Toronto newscast at 5 p.m.
Ford is up for re-election on Oct. 27.
Back from rehab
Ford came back Monday after spending two months at a rehab facility and offered a lengthy mea culpa for his past behaviour, saying he was embarrassed by the things he has done while using drugs or alcohol.
In his nearly 20-minute statement, an apologetic Ford pleaded for a second chance and promised an "unwavering" commitment to living clean, before pivoting into a re-election speech.
His spokesman said Ford is to participate in an executive committee meeting at city hall on Wednesday as he returns to work.
Ford's role as mayor has been largely symbolic since November, when city council stripped him of most of his power.