Wafting aromas from international food booths won’t be drawing crowds to Bower Ponds on Canada Day.
But the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society’s annual Canada Day celebration will go online at 1 p.m. for a virtual event on its Facebook page. And fireworks will be shot high into the sky at 11 p.m. from Westerner Park, which people are encouraged to watch from home.
Society board member Caroll Borg said it’s strange to shut down the usual July 1 festivities, which can attract as many as 15,000 people throughout the day.
“Normally, it’s an amazing day. It’s a community party. Being altogether, it’s just a wonderful atmosphere, and I hope we’ll have that again next year,” Borg said.
About a dozen Canada Day booths that sell a variety of cultural foods often have lineups for their unique specialties. Borg used to co-ordinate the Swedish food booth.
“That was always lots of work, but it was so fun to be there. Tiring, but fun,” said Borg, who now serves up pie and ice cream for the heritage society.
Borg is also a dancer with the Scandinavian folk dance group Fanatullen, one of about six to 10 dance groups that usually entertain the crowd and remind Red Deerians of all the cultures that make up their community.
She said Westerner Days brings a lot of people together, but Canada Day at Bower Ponds is a unique event that celebrates community spirit, international cultures and the nation’s Indigenous populations.
Society president Rob Ironside said it’s disappointing to cancel Red Deer’s traditional Canada Day event, but hopefully, the fireworks will cheer up residents after months of COVID-19 restrictions.
He said a lot of people don’t realize it’s the society that hosts the fireworks, and also operates Cronquist House, which was built in the early 1800s and opens for the season Thursday.
“Over the past number of years, people have been looking at it as a destination. We even have people booking from out of town. It’s definitely part of the culture of Red Deer,” Ironside said about the tea house at Bower Ponds.
He said the society is facing some financial challenges and that more people need to be aware that supporting the society is important to keeping traditions, such as the Canada Day event, alive, said Ironside.