Canada Day celebrations crowned the Sidney Days series of events, providing colour, spectacle and fun as the town drew Peninsula residents from far and wide.
Early risers started the day with a delicious pancake breakfast, hosted by the Sidney Lions at the Mary Winspear Centre, before crowds bubbling with anticipation chose a spot on Beacon Avenue to watch the parade. Promptly at 11:30 a.m., hundreds of people thronging Beacon Avenue watched as a lively procession passed through the centre of town. The excitement built as the strains of a pipe band could be heard even before they marched proudly into view at the head of the column.
Proud members of the Legion and ANAvets, resplendent in medals, followed their colour party, brandishing large flags, before performing a perfect eyes right to the appreciative local dignitaries sitting on a raised platform. These included Saanich Peninsula Legion President Mary Truttman and 99-year-old veteran Commander Peter Chance (retired).
Colourful floats, music and dances then wound along the town’s main thoroughfare, with the red and white crowds cheering their appreciation. Every piece of the parade was a highlight; with vintage vehicles, a Chinese cultural dance group and even a clown show featuring. At points during the festivities, all eyes were trained on the sky as a flyby from 443 squadron scorched overhead, teasing the helicopter demo to come later.
At 1 p.m., guided by proud firefighters, curious members of the community nosed about the impressive new Community Safety Building. Reports of middle-aged residents using the curly-wurly slide, installed in lieu of a pole, are as yet unconfirmed.
Like a sugar-filled magnet, kids were drawn to the Family Fun Fair at Iroquois Park, braving the soaring temperatures to have fun and let off some steam. This was complemented by stirring performances from the Peninsula Readers and Peninsula Players’ companies, with the dulcet tones of Wavelengths Choir following, in the early afternoon.
Part of the day’s attraction was the sheer diversity of things on offer. From music to great food, Sidney demonstrated the warm hospitality it has become famous for. The much loved Dog Show took place at 3 p.m., with cute mutts and rapscallion rovers literally enjoying their moments in the sun. This followed a dramatic Helicopter Water Rescue Demo from 442 Squadron on the seafront that many in attendance rated as one of the day’s highlights. The helicopter hovered daringly close to the water, simulating a rescue, and then flew almost above the pier where it dipped its nose in a salute of appreciation to the spectators. With spray from the rotor blades whipping into the crowd, everyone cheered and waved at this thoughtful gesture.
Perhaps less effective, but still a huge hit, was the hotly contested 32nd annual Slegg Build-a-Boat challenge. Ten teams made an impressive stab at building seaworthy craft and then braved the placid, yet treacherous, waters lapping Diver’s Point. Two Beauties and a Beast sped into the lead and never looked back, with the other crews struggling to get out of the shallows, before floundering and ultimately foundering. Overall, the same couldn’t be said for a wonderful day of celebration.