Canada Day celebrations brought out thousands of people to downtown Nelson and Rotary Lakeside Park on Wednesday.
The Lions Club began the day with a pancake breakfast which had people lining up on Baker Street.
Down at Rotary Lakeside Park, Mayor Deb Kozak addressed the crowd thanking city workers and all who helped to get the park ready for the day-long festivities after last Monday’s storm.
The Heritage Harmony Singers sang the national anthem and then it was time to cut the massive cake which was decorated as the Canadian flag.
City councillors Anna Purcell, Janice Morrison are ready to help as councillor Michael Dailly cuts the cake. Tamara Hynd photos
Nelson RCMP donned their red serge as they welcomed visitors to the park as well as lift the heavy wooden cover, revealing the icing covered cake. Dozens of organizations and businesses had booths with games, activities, snacks and decorations to keep people busy.
Save-On Foods had an entire truck load of watermelon to give away, 3,000 pounds worth to be precise.
Live music and dancing entertained the crowds with a grand fireworks finale from the soccer fields with the expertise of Nelson Fire Rescue.
The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce has organized the annual event for a number of years. Chamber executive director Tom Thomson said being involved in a community celebration like Canada Day is a spectacular thing to be involved with. He said it’s a way to give something back to the community, and a thank you for supporting local business.
“We try to create a festival type atmosphere and I think we do a pretty god job of it,” said Thomson. “We try to put on a free family fun day so we try to encourage as many community groups, organizations, non-profits and even some businesses to try not to do it as commerce but do it as a free day. We’re just happy to be involved.”
The event does take a lot of work.
“It’s a day where we start early and stay late,” he said. “There’s lots of stuff that goes on in between and behind the scenes that we’re actually involved with, like fund-raising and getting community groups down here.”
Thomson said the planning and preparation happen months ahead of time with the finer details start coming together closer to the event.
Then a day before the event, a major storm hit Nelson, uprooting numerous large trees in the park.
The Chamber was flooded with phone calls. “There were a lot of questions, was the event going to go ahead, etc.”
But Thomson says he plans the event to happen regardless of the weather, adding the Chamber kept the communication going as well as possible with social media.
“We’d like to thank public works and Nelson Hydro and the parks department for being able to work diligently the day before to make sure the event happened,” said Thomson. “Karen McDonald and her parks department were just awesome.”
He said thousands of people were in the park on Canada Day despite the fact that there was chaos 24 hours previous.
“You wouldn’t even know that there had been a storm through here.”