Labour Day weekend was not on the calendar of centennial event planners in Red Deer or Sylvan Lake when the 100th birthday celebrations of each were planned, but the unofficial end of summer featured some official events to celebrate the milestones.
Flooding and high water levels along the Red Deer River in late June left centennial planners having to shift their grand plans for the city’s homecoming weekend, held on the Canada Day long weekend. The venue for celebrations and fireworks was changed, and some events were postponed.
On Sunday, two of those events, the Centennial Chocolate Chase and Banners on the Bridge got their due.
Fueled by some pre-race chocolate and the promise of more chocolate post-race, a few dozen participants took part in the non-competitive five kilometer race on Sunday. They went across, and then came back along the old CPR bridge, on their second pass being able to see 10 red banners hanging from the bridge as they approached from the city’s riverside trails.
Eight of the six metre long by two metre wide banners featured archival photos from the city’s history that could be seen from the trails or the river itself by the hundreds of floaters traveling down.
There was Doris Forbes and Mickey the Beaver, an old grain elevator, and people skating in front of the Cronquist House among the images featured on the banners.
Centennial Committee chairwoman Sheila Bannerman said the displays and their location proved informative, as many people passing by on the day were not aware it was the city’s centennial in 2013.
Those passers-by were also able to enjoy some centennial cake, one of the approximately 125 such desserts that are being served up at the year’s events, all made and donated by the Central Alberta Co-op.
“We did three public consultations from different parts of Red Deer to find out how people wanted to celebrate their centennial and we’ve tried to incorporate as many of those themes as possible. And cake was one that just came up over and over and over again,” said Bannerman.
Later in the evening, City Hall Park was illuminated with the city’s centennial rain barrels emanating different colours and placed among the park’s gardens for the night. Bannerman said the display was an opportunity to rehash the popular barrels display from Fort Normandeau over the Canada Day weekend, while making use of the 125 barrels that are still available for sale through the centennial office.
While hoping all of the barrels ($70) will be sold by the end of the year when the office shuts its doors, she said the banners can also be had.
“If I have requests, I’ll be happy to entertain offers. They were a little bit expensive, so I don’t want to just give them anyway,” said Bannerman.
Still to come on the city’s centennial events calendar is a bike parade on Sept. 7, an old-fashioned fall fair at Sunnybrook Farm on Sept. 21, and the ‘Fire and Ice’ culmination on Dec. 13.
In Sylvan Lake, Calgary’s Big Bang Fireworks fulfilled its promise of giving the resort town a sky-filling show worthy of 100 years on Sunday night.
The company was beset by the June flooding that hit its offices but moreso its warehouse in High River. Joanne Gaudet, the Town of Sylvan Lake’s communications coordinator, said it still was able to put on a miniature four minute show on Canada Day, with a few fireworks fired off manually “which would have been more than sufficient in the early 90s, but with technology we’ve gotten accustomed to quite grand shows.”
So, Big Bang pledged to perform its grand Canada Day show at a later date, and the Labour Day weekend seemed like a good fit. Hundreds of people took in the spectacle from along the town’s lakeshore and roads, while others watched from their boats on the lake.
The company had originally offered to perform the scaled-down Canada Day show for free to the town, but the town decided to pay it anyway, in recognition of its efforts.