Behind the scenes of the Oak Bay Tea Party

Chairman of the Oak Bay Tea Party Society Bill Murphy Dyson hands a copy of the event's annual traffic information sheet for nearby residents on Tuesday to Esplanade homeowner Kari LeBlanc. Murphy Dyson encourages Tea Party attendees to take transit

Chairman of the Oak Bay Tea Party Society Bill Murphy Dyson hands a copy of the event's annual traffic information sheet for nearby residents on Tuesday to Esplanade homeowner Kari LeBlanc. Murphy Dyson encourages Tea Party attendees to take transit

Asked if he has a brochure, a poster or any kind of Tea Party swag from his 20-plus years volunteering with the event, Bill Murphy-Dyson is at a loss.

One would expect to find some Oak Bay Tea Party memorabilia in the office of the organizing committee chair.

He rustles through some file folders, points out the names of a couple key volunteers, but is hard pressed to find anything visibly related to Oak Bay’s biggest community celebration of the year.

To the visitor, it seems he’s very good at leaving his volunteer job at the office – which in this case, and this weekend, will be Willows Park and beach.

“I made the mistake of volunteering (in 1989) because (the former chair) was a client of our firm and he immediately said ‘You’re in charge of the parade,’” Murphy-Dyson recalls.

The parade chair job has long since been handed over to Rick Hawes. But Murphy-Dyson – easily recognizable on site as the man on the microphone and the guy in the green pinstriped shirt – continues to handle much of the behind-the-scenes work, along with committee secretary, Sandy Germain.

Germain is such a fan of Tea Party, in fact, she’s taken to jumping from a plane for it.

An active member of Victoria Skydiving Adventures, she’ll be among the people diving out of a plane high above Willows Beach between 2 and 3 p.m. Sunday (June 5), with the goal of landing safely on the sand. Oak Bay Sea Rescue volunteers in their rescue vessel are on the water for the air show and all of the Tea Party’s other beach-based events in case of any mishaps.

In its 49th year of providing family fun and a vehicle for service clubs to raise funds for their various causes, Oak Bay Tea Party kicks off the early summer season for many people in the region’s core municipalities.

So what makes this event so popular?

“It’s compact. It’s fun. It’s safe,” Murphy-Dyson says. “If the weather’s good (at press time the forecast called for sunshine), the Commodores Big Band draws a lot of ballroom dancers on Sunday. (The biggest spectacle is) probably the air show. People are just awed by that.”

The hope is for two helicopters to be on hand this time, a Sea King from the 443 Squadron in Sidney and a Cormorant from 442 Squadron in Comox.

Murphy-Dyson has a few tips for Tea Party goers: “Number 1 is leave your car at home. Cycle or take transit to get down to the beach,” he says. “Number 2 is come intending to spend the day.”

The third thing is don’t worry about what order you do things in. With entertainment going on virtually all day, the midway available till 9 p.m. and various food choices on hand – not to mention the beach – it’s a place to make a day of it, he says.

A full schedule of events is available online at www.oakbayteaparty.com.

– files from Erin Cardone

editor@oakbaynews.com