Toronto's controversial mayor threw himself a large party, complete with a band, bag pipers and a red carpet Thursday night, to officially launch his campaign for re-election.

Amid an estimated crowd of 2,000 supporters, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford made his message clear. Despite controversy and criticism, he will not back down.

Ford took to the stage at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday, after making his way along a red carpet crowded with sign-wielding volunteers and supporters.

"Thank you, Ford Nation. This is absolutely amazing. But this is just the beginning," he said to the cheering crowd.

Early in his half-hour speech, the mayor addressed his personal problems too, suggesting the loss of many mayoral powers following his admission of smoking crack cocaine was among his recent "rocky moments."

"There's been some rocky moments over the past year. I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes," he said, thanking his supporters.

"I owe the people of Toronto a great, great debt of gratitude," he added, thanking those he says were sending words of encouragement and support as the scandal unfolded.

"You are the salt of the Earth."

"When (mistakes) occur, we learn a lot about ourselves. Humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of second chances," he said.

Ford formally announced his run in the Oct. 27 election, but didn't release a specific campaign platform.

He promised to stick with his well-known policies going forward, and pledged to represent hard-working, "average" Torontonians.

"The people of Toronto know that I understand them, that I stand up for them, and I won't back down when I'm fighting for them."

After his speech, he walked past blue and red lights into the crowd again as Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" played on the loudspeakers.