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Canada Day parade marches on again in Sidney

Canada Day parade part of Sidney Days, June 30 to July 1
Heather Wrightson, chair of Peninsula Celebration Society; John Wrightson, vice-president Peninsula Celebration Society; and Jean Galvin, a member of the Canada Day parade organizing committee, stand in Beacon Park in anticipation of Canada Day, which will see the return of many familiar events. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)


That is how it shot out of Jean Galvin, when asked how she and her fellow annual Canada Day parade organizers –Heather and John Wrightson with Peninsula Celebration Society – felt about the return of the event after a three-year absence.

The Wrightsons felt equally happy about the return of Sidney’s, pardon the pun, parade event of local Canada Day celebrations on the Saanich Peninsula.

John said the motto of the society is to help residents of all three Saanich Peninsula communities celebrate and that is exactly what the society aims to do.

“We have been shut down for two years and now we are coming out gang-buster,” he said.

Heather struck a similar note. “(Peninsula Celebration Society) is not a fundraising society, but a fun-raising society,” she said with a big twinkle in her eyes.

In years past, thousands lined Beacon Avenue to watch the parade as it passed through Sidney’s premier street and cultural space. This year’s parade promises to offer, what for many residents have been yearning, a sense of the familiar, with no major concessions due to COVID-19, save for some hand-sanitizing stations.

The parade and the family fun fair, organized by the Peninsula Celebration Society, are part and parcel of a series of events falling under the story of Sidney Days, starting June 30 with opening ceremonies scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. at Beacon Park, followed by live music until 10:15 p.m. when fireworks will light up the summer night sky.

On July 1, the Sidney Lions will present a pancake breakfast in the parking lot of Mary Winspear Centre starting at 8 a.m., prior to the parade start at 11:30 a.m.

The noon hour will mark the starting point of the Slegg Build-A-Boat competition that sees teams build water vessels out of an assortment of items supplied by the company for the purpose of winning a maritime race starting at 4:45 p.m. that can be read as both a serious dare and wet hi-jinx.

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The free parade itself will start at 11:30 a.m. and go until 12:30 p.m., which marks the opening time for the Family Fun Fair in nearby Iroquois Park, another familiar event organized by Peninsula Celebration Society. Running until 4 p.m., the fair will feature inflatables, food vendors, games, a dog rescue show and live music including famed Canadian entertainer Valdy (sponsored by Thrifty Foods) and The Distractions.

Valdy, in fact, will be busy on Canada Day, as he will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal before playing for 45 minutes at Iroquois Park. While a resident of Salt Spring Island, Valdy loves Sidney, said John, and it was Heather, who made the connection.

For Galvin and the Wrightsons, adding Valdy represents a personal touch to the parade, which will feature vehicles both large and small of various kinds and make, including the familiar tractor pulling the train of barrels used to shuttle children around North Saanich’s Pendray Farms and its corn maze.

Look for it again in the winter, when the Peninsula Celebration Society will stage the Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade.

Like so many organizers of upcoming events, Galvin and the Wrightsons have had to deal with post-COVID-19 impacts such as labour shortages and supply chain issues. All this said, John also sees the parade as a chance for the Peninsula Celebration Society to showcase itself and attract new members, while fulfilling its mandate of bringing communities together, with events throughout the rest of the summer and beyond.

That includes, among others, the Summer Sound Concert Series. Each Sunday starting July 10 and ending Aug. 28 will see a new musical group take the bandshell stage in Beacon Park for a free community show between 2 and 4 p.m.

The next big highlight will be the Sidney Sparkles Christmas Parade and organizers say have already lined up Santa.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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