Sun, heat, music, food, fun and people showing off their national pride filled downtown Courtenay Monday as the Comox Valley celebrated Canada Day.
The July 1st Committee’s Karen Whitworth said she’s pleased with how the celebrations turned out this year.
“It was the best weather that we have had in the 20 years that I’ve been involved with Canada Day — that was fabulous,” Whitworth said excitedly Tuesday. “The parade had a terrific number of people and groups that took part and that’s always great to see.”
Fifth Street filled up quickly Monday morning as brave runners raced down the already sizzling street shortly after 10 a.m. during the annual Fifth Street Mile footrace.
By the time the annual Grande Parade started down Fifth, a little after 10:30 a.m., the sides of the road were packed with thousands of excited children and adults, plus a few pets.
Live entertainment, food and craft booths, games, contests and a huge kids zone were just a few of the things to check out in Lewis Park.
Comox Rotary’s 26th annual Ducky 500 race down the Courtenay River to the Fifth Street Bridge drew a large gathering of spectators again this year.
Kathy Langman claimed first prize, a seven-day Caribbean Cruise for two or $5,000. Tyrna Jeans won a trip for four to Disneyland for placing second, and Jeff Nickerson won a Las Vegas trip for two for placing third. Ducks placing fourth through 10th won various other prizes.
According to Holly Grant, who is a Comox Rtarian and co-chair of the Ducky 500, a whopping 6,000 ducks were sold at $10 a piece this year. She pointed out that’s 150 more ducks than last year’s total, and all proceeds will go to Rotary Club of Comox projects, as it does every year.
“Last we year we donated $10,000 to Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness, we supported the food bank, the Comox Valley Child Development Centre and the (Comox Valley) Therapeutic Riding Society,” said Grant, as she named off just a few as examples.
“We sure appreciate the community support from everybody who buys a ticket to all the great sponsors that we have who do the corporate sponsorship, and all the Rotarians who volunteer their time on the holiday.”
Meanwhile, Simm’s Millennium Park featured the Kinsmen Pancake Breakfast in the morning, followed by various entertainment and contests throughout the day.
Whitworth noted a “really fun new event this year” was the Westview Ford Sumo Challenge, in which participants, who were “mostly young men,” got to suit up and fight it out for prizes, sumo wrestler style.
One of the few events Whitworth said she’d like to have seen more people at this year was the Ladies Nail Driving Competition (sponsored by Home Depot), which she said is one of the longest running contests at the Comox Valley’s Canada Day celebrations.
She noted the Tea Dance, held in the Native Sons Hall, was so popular the space was filled to capacity.
The Celebrate Canada Concert — which was held that evening at the Sid Williams Theatre, and featured numerous musicians and dancers — was also filled to capacity, according to Whitworth.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings all featured live music in Simm’s Park as well.
The contest theme for 2013 was ‘As Canadian as…’ and Whitworth said food seemed to be on people’s minds with most of the responses being food oriented, like Nanaimo bars, Saskatoon pie or poutine.
“When people are thinking about Canada they’re thinking about their stomachs,” she said with a laugh, noting organizers are already getting plans underway for next year’s event.
She added the committee could use more volunteers to help plan next year’s event. Anyone interested can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.