Rob Ford, For five hours on Tuesday Toronto’s mayor signed bobblehead after bobblehead, thanking his supporters and doggedly ignoring his critics.
More than 1,000 people lined up — some as early as 5 a.m. — to lay claim to a limited edition Mayor Rob Ford bobblehead.
The doll, featuring the mayor smiling and dressed in a navy suit and light blue tie, costs $20 and is limited to one per person with proceeds — $11.80 after costs — going to the United Way.
Supporters and detractors of the mayor crowded city hall in lines that looped the rotunda multiple times, hoping to get a doll before all 1,000 sold out.
A handful went home empty-handed, except for a photo with the mayor and his business card, his signature scrawled across it.
But Ford promised he’d be back Wednesday selling Ford Nation t-shirts, also for $20 with an undeclared amount of the proceeds going to the United Way.
Those lined up had assorted plans for the collector’s item, dozens of which were already being resold online. One seller in Etobicoke is asking for $25,000: “only 1,000 sold, it will be worth millions one day. Only crack-smoking mayor in the world.”
Another seller, looking for $500 promised the money would go to a charity dealing with addiction: a “win-win for everyone, even Rob Ford.”
Some wanted the doll as a Christmas present; others came at the bidding of friends and families outside the city; some came simply for the opportunity to take a photo with the mayor and provide some encouragement after a rough week.
Norm Pasquale promised his doll would end up “hard partying” or on eBay or maybe, he said, poking fun at Ford’s video controversy.
“Maybe I’ll do a video and put that on eBay showing how many parties the thing’s taken part in,” Pasquale said, laughing. “I’m thinking like pretend drug smoking, maybe you know a strip joint, night club, on the DJ booth, on the record sort of going back and forth.”
Even though more than 1,000 lined up and all the bobbleheads were sold, Jay White said he was shocked there weren’t more people when he arrived just after 7 a.m.
“I thought there’d be a lineup and people sleeping over, I really did,” White said, adding he didn’t want to miss it.
“We’re living in crazy times and it’s probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have a time stamp of a guy that smokes crack as a mayor.”
As people waited, the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, made his way around the line, shaking hands and posing for photos.
At one point, he mentioned the mayor’s office had changed the design of the bobblehead, dubbed the “Robbie Bobbie,” four times but said it’s still missing “a few pounds.” He dismissed suggestions it looks more like him than the mayor.
When the mayor finally arrived at city hall just after 10:45 a.m., flanked by security and his driver, he took the stairs to the second floor, where he broke into a sprint. As Ford dashed through the hallway — and through the pack of journalists — as if he were on a football field, an errant elbow made contact with one of the many video cameras in his way.
Still, Ford was welcomed with cheers from residents waiting in line and one man, who shouted, “Resign Rob Ford, resign … Ford Nation is done,” was escorted out by security.
The mayor, who didn’t speak with the media except to express his condolences to members of Toronto’s Filipino community, left promising there would be more bobbleheads in three to four weeks.
The United Way doesn’t have any input into fundraising campaigns such as the bobbleheads, said United Way Toronto spokeswoman Michelle Yao. Each of the 700 workplaces that support the organization decide how they will raise money, she said.