Prince Albert residents sat through a steady drizzle on Friday to celebrate the first in-person Canada ceremony since 2019.
Spectators gathered underneath trees, tents and umbrellas to watch the Royal Canadian Legion colour guard open the festivities at 12:30 p.m. Although the rain was a bit frustrating, those in attendance were just happy for the return to normal.
“It’s been good,” said Prince Albert resident Suzanne Siwak. “It’s not a heavy rain, so it didn’t chase us away.”
“It’s nice to come back and be with everybody,” said Billie Choque, one of many volunteers helping out with the Royal Canadian Legion Canada Day barbeque. “It’s been a great day. It’d be even greater without the rain.”
COVID-19 wiped out Canada Day celebrations in 2020 and pushed them online in 2021. Even then, many events were muted or cancelled after the Indigenous leaders in Cowessess First Nation and Kamloops, B.C. announced the discovery of unmarked graves at two former residential school sites.
Friday’s ceremony at Kinsmen Park included the return of live music, children’s games, and other entertainment. Those in attendance said it was important to commemorate the occasion after going so long without doing so.
“It’s been a long stretch,” said Ed Charlebois, a Spruce Home resident who travelled to Kinsmen Park for the festivities. “I think it’s important to celebrate the good things about Canada.”
Organizers were pleased with the turnout, especially since they had more to contend with than just the weather. Legion Canada Day chair Lorraine Gobeil said the prices for everything have gone up, adding an additional challenge.
At the end of the day, however, they were satisfied with the result.
“We’re happy,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for anything more because of the weather.
“It turned out good for us, especially after two years of not having (in person events)…. I think if the weather was warmer, there would have been more because these poor people were still coming out in this rain.”