Above: Rylee Haig fishes along the shore of the Morinville Fish and Game association Pond during Sunday’s Morinville Legion 2017 Phil Grant Memorial Derby. Below: President Ira Austin and Joe Jacob cook up some burgers for visitors. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

MORINVILLE LEGION HOLDING OPEN HOUSE JULY 1 – NOON – 6 PM

by Stephen Dafoe

Flipping burgers and wieners on a grill outside the Morinville Fish and Game Association clubhouse on Fathers’ Day to feed granddads and dads and their sons and daughters may not be what people envision when someone mentions the Royal Canadian Legion. But the Legion is more than the familiar military cut suits seen by so many when the Legion Colour Guard leads parades during festivals and on Remembrance Day.

To show residents and potential members what the Morinville Legion is about, the group will host an open house on Canada Day.

Volunteer organizer Joe Jacob said the event would run from noon until about 6 p.m. on July 1. He and other Legion members are inviting the public out to learn about the Legion and the programs they offer.

“We’re having a Canada Day open house, and we’re trying to run it in conjunctions with the town festivities in the park,” Jacob explained. “We’re going to open the bar downstairs, and upstairs in our hall, we’re going to have tours to let people know what our Legion is about. There’s going to be snacks and door prizes for those who attend.”

Morinville Legion Branch 176 President Ira Austin said Legions started years ago for ex-service personnel and their families, but today members do not have to be connected to the military.

“Anyone of good character – who has respect for others and is willing to help in the neighbourhood – are welcome to join,” Austin said, noting many of the activities like last Sunday’s Morinville Legion 2017 Phil Grant Memorial Derby are open to families and children. “We’re trying to have days where kids can come along.”

Among those family-friendly events are the Legion’s monthly community breakfasts, which Austin said will resume in the fall.

Other events the Legion run includes an annual Seniors’ Luncheon; weekly meat draws on Sundays, and their BINGO, which, like the breakfasts will resume in the fall.

One event that runs year round is the Legions Friday night Dart Jitney.

“The Legion is now starting to modernize itself in some ways,” Austin said. “It needed to do that to get younger people in. Most of the seniors from the First World War, Second World War, Korean War have or are passing on. Now we are looking at members who have been in the new conflicts around the world as well as their families. We’re trying to accommodate more and more of those people.”

But it is not all about attracting new members. Austin said Legion members visit lodges in Morinville and Legal to keep up with members there.

The Legion Open House on July 1 is something Joe Jacob and other Legion members are hoping people will attend.

“We are a community-oriented, non-profit organization, and members of the public are invited to participate,” Jacob said. “It’s a fun atmosphere, good people, and a lot of our volunteers put many hours organizing these events. I think if people came down they would learn a little bit more about the Legion and have a lot of fun.”

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