COLUMN: The year we almost lost Canada Day

Members of the Summerland Legion have ensured our national holiday is celebrated here

It was a celebration of Canada as hundreds of people attended the Canada Day events in Summerland’s Memorial Park on Monday.

The event featured speeches by dignitaries, a flag-raising, activities for children, a barbecue and a cake in honour of Canada’s 152nd birthday.

It wasn’t the biggest Canada Day celebration in the country, but it was ours.

Summerland’s Canada Day event is something for this community to treasure, in part because the day almost went unobserved here a few years ago.

That was in 2010.

As July 1 was approaching, no group or organization had planned any festivities for the day. The Legion stepped forward and as a result, Canada Day celebrations continued.

“This Legion is not going to let this town down,” said John Lawrie, president of the Summerland Legion at the time. “If nobody else picks up the ball, we will.”

And in the years following, the Legion has organized Canada Day festivities each year.

READ ALSO: Summerland Legion organized Canada Day celebrations

READ ALSO: QUIZ: How much do you really know about Canada?

“This Legion will not allow Canada Day to go uncelebrated,” Lawrie said about the Legion’s involvement. “Too many people lost their lives to give us independence and freedom. We will not forget them.”

The Summerland Legion volunteers deserve praise for this annual effort in giving us a local event to celebrate our national identity.

Still, it’s hard to believe Summerland could get to the point where the future of Canada Day celebrations was in jeopardy.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Summerland billed itself as “Towne of Festivals.” It was a time when there were plenty of festivals, events and special activities from spring until early fall each year.

There was the Children’s Festival on the Saturday of the Easter weekend, the Summerland Action Festival, Canada Day on July 1, Family Fun Day on the August long weekend, A Taste of Summerland on the Labour Day weekend and the Summerland Fall Fair in early September.

Other community events have included car shows, a rodeo, a motorcycle gathering and a music festival.

We’ve lost some of these events.

It has been many years since Summerland held Family Fun Day and A Taste of Summerland.

The Children’s Festival faded away more than a decade ago, although in recent years Remax Orchard Country in Summerland has done a stellar job in making this event happen once again.

READ ALSO: Children gather for Easter festival in Summerland

Even the Summerland Fall Fair, a community tradition for more than a century came to a close several years ago.

Last year, a team of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers brought back this event.

And Summerland now has a recent addition to its festivals as the Ryga Festival is held during the Labour Day weekend.

Anyone who has worked with a festival knows a good event takes a lot of work.

The committee involved in the Summerland Action Festival works year-round in order to organize an event that lasts for one weekend in early June.

READ ALSO: Summerland celebrates 37th annual Action Festival

READ ALSO: Summerland holds two-day Fall Fair

The same is true of other festivals and special events. The effort is significant.

It takes plenty of time and energy to set the date, book the venue, arrange the entertainment and schedule of events, book the performers and attractions, organize the vendors, set up and take down stages and seating and make sure the garbage is cleaned up at the end.

All those tasks and more are needed in order to ensure everything runs smoothly during the event.

Without the dedication of a good team of volunteers, it becomes difficult if not impossible to organize a special event.

The members of the Summerland Legion have stepped up and as a result, Canada Day celebrations are able to continue in Summerland.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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