By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – There won’t be any fireworks in town this Canada Day, but that’s just fine for the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society, a group who has once again stepped to the front of the line to bring the community a Canada Day celebration the way they were done many years ago.
“We want to drive families and the old fashioned family picnic in a central locale,” said organizer Murray Knight of this year’s Canada Day theme. “In our case, our central locale is St. Jean Baptiste Park.” Knight went on to say the park, an historical location and focal point for the town, is a great place to bring the family July 1 to celebrate the nation’s birthday. “Just relax and enjoy two-and-a-half or three-hours of entertainment, flag raising, eating, visiting. It’s just total enjoyment.”
Knight and his group believe family often gets separated in an era of people walking around focused on their electronic devices. For the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society, Canada Day is an opportunity to break from that pattern if only for a day. “Eventually, you’ve got to bring the family back; hold hands and hug a little bit,” he said. “For a few hours one day a year we can have a family entertainment in downtown Morinville.”
Although there will not be a fireworks display as has become commonplace in many communities over the past 145 years, the Canada Day in the park will not be concluded without going out with a bang of its own. Knight said there will be a simulated 21-gun salute – three volleys of seven shots – as the maple leaf is raised. “It’s the ambiance of a 21-gun salute associated with your flag,” he said, noting in speaking with retired military majors, he learned the 21-gun salute is an appropriate Canada Day element.
[subhead]True patriot love on the door step
A highlight of last year’s celebrations for the group was being able to place approximately 1,700 small Canadian flags on residents’ lawns. The group had hoped to blanket every home in Morinville this year but ran into a small problem. “There’s a young lady in the UK who had a 60th anniversary this year,” Knight joked, a reference to Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee. “We get our flags at no charge. We just have to order them. [There was] a shortage of flags this year because of the queen’s anniversary. We wanted to get 3,000 flags, but we are going to be hard pressed to have 1,500 or 1,700.”
Although the group will not be able to hit every home as they planned, they will be hitting the streets of Morinville bright and early Canada Day morning placing the ones they do have. “We have right now 42 people to stick flags in the ground,” he said of the volunteer team. “We’ve got more people sticking flags than we’ve got flags right now.”
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[SUBHEAD]Hoping for a solid turnout
St. Jean Baptiste Park will open at noon July 1. The format will be similar to last year: the raising of the flag, the singing of O Canada, and entertainment from Morinville’s entertainment community in both of the country’s official languages. “We have a group of kids who can sing in French and English,” Knight said, adding there will also be cake in appropriate colours to be cut, shared and enjoyed.
The historical and cultural group is hoping Morinvillians will take part in the celebrations in the park. “Bring your blanket. Bring your picnic basket. Sit on the grass, and enjoy live entertainment through the whole thing,” Knight said, adding there are many activities outside the entertainment for children to enjoy, including bouncy castles, carnival games and face painting. “I think we have got the scope covered for family entertainment. Now we just need families.”
The event runs from noon until approximately 3 p.m. July 1 in St. Jean Baptiste Park. Funding for the event came from grants from Canada Heritage – Celebrate Canada and the Town of Morinville.