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Central Alberta communities plan for centennial birthdays

Central Alberta has hundreds of reasons to celebrate 2013.

Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Rocky Mountain House and Delburne will all celebrate their centennial birthdays next year.

“It’s a reflection of the fact back in those years, immediately proceeding the outbreak of the First World War, the settlement boom was coming to its peak,” said Michael Dawe, Red Deer’s curator of history.

“All kinds of railroads were being built and new communities being created or existing communities were growing to the extent that they were incorporated.”

When the war broke out, growth came to “a grinding halt” and not much happened for the decade or so, he said.

Red Deer will greet 2013 with Centennial First Night on New Year’s Eve at Bower Ponds, from 6 to 9 p.m.

About 2,500 glow sticks, 1,000 temporary tattoos of Red Deer’s centennial logo, and slices of cake from 10 big birthday cakes will be given away.

Sheila Bannerman, Red Deer Centennial Committee chairperson, said according to consultations with the public and community groups, people wanted to celebrate on ice.

“One of the things that came across really strongly was people hoped to have a skating party. And people always like fireworks,” Bannerman said.

Freezing temperatures have ensured the pond will be ready, but hopefully it won’t be too cold because the fireworks would be cancelled if it’s below -20C.

“We would still be there, and we would welcome people to come and join us, but we wouldn’t be able to have fireworks.”

Among Red Deer’s centennial events will be the planting of the Centennial Grove on March 25, a Homecoming Festival and River of Light from June 29 to 30, an Outdoor Barn Dance on Little Gaetz Avenue on July 16, and an Old Fashioned Fall Fair on Sept. 21.

Sylvan Lake can hardly wait to celebrate its centennial and will kick off the fun on Jan. 1 with the official historic designation of 50th Street as Centennial Street at 3 p.m. at the Lakeshore Drive intersection, followed by fireworks at the Sylvan Lake Pier at 6:30 p.m.

“If you’ve ever been out to Sylvan Lake on New Year’s Day, there’s lots of families skating on the lake so we’re inviting them up to have some hot chocolate with us and watch the fireworks with us,” said Brenda Dale, chairperson Sylvan Lake Centennial Celebrations Task Force.

The Centennial Street sign will be a historic reminder for years to come, she said.

The town has put $100,000 towards its centennial festivities. Town events will continue throughout the year and local clubs and organizations are also developing centennial projects.

One of the highlights of the year will be the Dance of the Century at the Multiplex on June 15.

“Sylvan Lake has a history of dance halls and fun times out here so we’re going to visit that again. There are lots of people in the area who remember coming here,” Dale said.

Some of the other Sylvan Lake Centennial events include musical theatre depicting the 10 decades of the town’s history by students from H.J. Cody School on June 8, the official re-dedication of Centennial Park on June 12, and the Parade of the Century on June 15.



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