Oak Bay tea party celebrates 50 years with fun and fireworks

Parade, fireworks, epic battle between mayors all part of the action

Former Oak Bay mayor Christopher Causton and present Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen have a cup of tea and size each other up as they prepare for the big teacup race against each other Sunday at Willows Beach.

Amusement rides, afternoon kayaking, fireworks, and a face-off between current Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen and former mayor Christopher Causton in the annual floating teacup race.

These are just some of the activities happening at Willows Beach this weekend in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Oak Bay Tea Party.

While a majority of the weekend’s activities remain the same, members of the public will notice a few additions to this year’s schedule.

For the first time, the Naden Band will be performing at the Tea Party. As well, fireworks, which have not been part of the annual event since 2003, are back, courtesy of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

“We’ve had a good formula over the last number of years for the Tea Party, so we’re reluctant to make too many changes,” said Bill Murphy-Dyson, chair of the Oak Bay Tea Party Society. “Why fix a good thing?”

Murphy-Dyson, who first got involved organizing the Tea Party in 1989 and has been the society’s chair since 1994, guarantees that everyone will have a good time.

After months of planning, Murphy-Dyson and fellow society members, say seeing everybody having a good time is their favourite part.

“(I look forward) to just see it all come together and everybody having a good time and the service clubs making money for their charities.”

Another addition to this year’s festivities is a kayak rescue demonstration by the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society on Saturday, as well as a “yoga on paddle board” demonstration presented by Pacifica Paddle Sports.

Also, as part of Jensen’s first Tea Party as mayor, he will be going against Causton in his first floating teacup challenge. Causton has 15 races on Jensen.

“I certainly am up to the challenge,” Jensen said. “I’m just contemplating how to stay afloat.

“(My) strategy is to watch him to begin with and then try to emulate what he’s done and then just do it faster and better,” he said with a laugh.

Murphy-Dyson warns the teacup can be “very easily tipped.” However, no one has sunk their teacup since David Hahn, former CEO of B.C. Ferries, sank his about five years ago.

The goal of the teacup race is not to tip the cup and to make sure the cup goes in the right direction, he said.

Sink or swim, Jensen seems excited for the festivities.

“It’s going to be a great weekend, as we celebrate the anniversary of a fantastic 50 years,” Jensen said. “Every year new things have happened and they’ve grown, so this is going to be a special celebration.”

Tea Party Highlights

Saturday, June 2:

Tea Party kick-off with the Oak Bay High concert band, 12 p.m., followed by opening ceremonies, 12:30 p.m.

Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society kayak rescue demonstration, 1:30 p.m.

Yoga on the water demonstration by Pacifica Paddle Sports, 1:45 p.m.

Kayak rides by donation, from 12 to 4 p.m.

Fireworks at 10 p.m.

Sunday, June 3:

Bathtub races, 1 p.m.

Skydivers and air show, 2 p.m.

Floating teacup challenge, 4 p.m.

Naden Band performs, 4:30 p.m.

Midway at Willows Park opens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Click here for more information.

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