Among the many highlights of the usual May long weekend events in Cumberland has been the crowning of the May Queen.
Last year, with COVID-19 derailing many community activities, things mostly came to a halt, as the Cumberland Events Society cancelled the week-long celebration.
As a result, it’s been some time since the organizers of the Victoria Day Celebration, known for years as Empire Days, have crowned someone new.
“Last year we had to shut down and had a May Queen in waiting. That’s never happened before,” says chair Marianne Bell. “It’s been two years since we’ve had a crowning.”
With the pandemic still affecting events, the organizers will be holding off on many of the festivities, but they have decided it’s time to pass the crown. Loralie Bell, who was crowned in 2019, has been the longest serving May Queen in the community’s history. This month, she will hand the crown over to incoming May Queen Madelyn Davie. A special video produced by Fox&Bee will be aired on Monday, May 24 at cumberlandbc.info/victoria-day-celebrations-2021. The showing is set for noon, or roughly the same time as the regular crowning would take place.
“We wanted to put that out far and wide,”the chair says. “The video will be of the crowning, but it’ll also have a minute of history … a little minute about the fire department.”
A key theme this year will be a salute to Cumberland Fire Rescue, which has been recognized as the oldest volunteer fire department in the province and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2020. This was supposed to a focal point for the celebrations last year.
Last year, with everything cancelled though, the community went ahead with a different sort of parade.
“We did a drive-by parade around town,” Bell says. “It was a hoot.”
Many people, she says, came out in their driveways to watch the parade while dressed in costumes such as dinosaurs, Muppets or trees.
“There was all kinds of people out in their driveways, waving us by, and some of them were dressed in the most outlandish costumes,” she says. “It was just so much fun.”
One of the other tie-ins this year has been a T-shirt design contest, with the winning design by Kelly Everill to honour Cumberland Fire Rescue.
This year marks the 133rd celebration of Victoria Day, making the event older than Cumberland itself.
“The legend is, right from the start, that in 1888 somebody up here raised a glass to the queen,” says Bell.
For more information, email the Cumberland Events Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.