Honest Ed's is gone, but the Bathurst and Bloor holiday turkey giveaway lives on

A tradition at Bathurst and Bloor started some 30 years ago by the namesake founder of Honest Ed's was kept alive again on Sunday, despite the iconic retailer closing its doors last year.

500 turkeys were distributed to a lineup that was, at its peak, two hours long

Hundreds lined up for a free turkey giveaway at Bathurst and Bloor on Sunday. (Supplied)

A tradition at Bathurst and Bloor started some 30 years ago by the namesake founder of Honest Ed's was kept alive again on Sunday, despite the iconic retailer closing its doors last year. 

About 500 turkeys were distributed on a first come, first served basis to people in an hours-long line up in the frigid cold. The event was hosted by Freeman Realty and the Toronto campus of Spirit of Math Schools, an after-school mathematics program.

The first person in line arrived around 4 a.m. and, by opening hour at 9 a.m., there were hundreds of people. The annual line up outside the former Honest Ed's location was a holiday staple for many in the area, with it's antics and enthusiasm. 

Elden Freeman says when Honest Ed's closed down, he saw a need in the community for the "spirit" of the 30-year tradition to continue. (Supplied)

When Honest Ed's shuttered in 2016, says Elden Freeman, "we saw that there was a big need in the community."

Freeman, president of the eponymous realty firm, added that turn out exceeded expectations.

"Last year we started out and it was kinda slow and then this year there was a huge line up to start."

Some 500 turkeys were distributed while entertainers and volunteers kept people in the hours-long line busy and plied with warm beverages. (Supplied)

At its peak, hundreds of people were in the queue outside the realty office, a few blocks north of the corner where Honest Ed's once stood. It took about two hours to give out $12,000 worth of poultry, Freeman says. 

Several city councillors helped out the volunteers. 

"They know how to do it in this area, and they've been doing it for so long," said Coun. Joe Mihevc. "First at Honest Ed's and now here."

For its part, Ed Mirvish Enterprises announced it partnered with five organizations in the city to distribute more than 900 kg of turkey for holiday dinners for vulnerable people in the city. The groups include The Salvation Army, Scott Mission, Nellie's Shelter, Casey House, Covenant House and West Toronto Church of God. 

According to a news release from the company, the donation came directly from downtown developer and theatre magnate, David Mirvish, the elder Mirvish's son. 

Coun. Joe Mihevc told CBC Toronto that although the event was not in his ward, "it's a great tradition for the Bathurst-Bloor neighbourhood. (Supplied)