The future of Port Alberni’s Canada Day parade and festivities are secure for another year.
A month ago, that wasn’t the case.
The Folkfest Society made the decision at a committee meeting to cancel the parade and international celebrations at Glenwood Centre.
It was clear that the community didn’t want the parade to go away. “It’s so crucial,” says Gayle Stephen-Player of the Women’s Business Network.
The WBN and other community volunteers have stepped up to keep the parade going.
“For me, it’s really about the students and how important Canada Day is to (them), and that they are celebrating their country’s birthday,” said Pam Craig, a WBN member and school board trustee. “It was a no-brainer for us.”
Fellow WBN member Bessie Clark agrees.
“This is important for these kids. I’m 75 and I remember when I was five years old, sitting on the side of the road watching the parade.”
Port Alberni’s Canada Day parade has been running under the auspices of the FolkFest Society since 1977, according to Winston Joseph. Following the 2013 event, parade coordinator Gillian Shearwater hung up her bullhorn for the last time, and handed in her binder full of information in the hopes someone else would take it on.
The same few volunteers have been putting on the parade and accompanying July 1 festivities for several years, Blake said. The WBN felt they could take this project on because they have more members, she added.
Joining the WBN in organizing the parade are longtime community volunteer Kristi Dobson and Janis Joseph, Winston’s daughter.
This year’s theme is Coming Together. The WBN is urging community groups to create floats based on that theme.
“We’d like to see as many floats as possible,” Blake said.
A deadline for entries will be set soon. Although they have a tighter timeline than usual, Blake is confident the WBN will be able to pull this off.
Shearwater left them with a thorough detailing of what needs to be done. “We’re in good hands,” Blake said.
For more information, please call Blake at 250-724-1997 or look up “Canada Day Parade” on Facebook.