Canada Day event organizers get creative with physically distant celebrations
VANCOUVER -- Thanks to the pandemic, Canada Day celebrations across the country look and feel a lot different this year, but organizers in Surrey and Vancouver weren’t about to let the threat of COVID-19 rain on their parades.
“We just want to be part of the solution of bringing people back together, building some social connections,” said PNE CEO Shelley Frost.
Inside the Pacific Coliseum, the PNE held a reverse parade — with performers remaining stationary and car loads of spectators driving through to see them.
“It is the only live entertainment event in Canada right now,” said Frost.
The concept was a big hit with families from across the Lower Mainland.
“It’s great that they kind of thought up this in a resourceful way to do it, getting people to drive through,” said Gurpreet Dhingra, who attended with her husband and two children. “I think it’s great to still be able to take part.”
About 30 performers roamed the inside of the arena, including some dancers, hockey players and logger sports athletes demonstrating axe throwing, chainsaw carving and log rolling.
“Every Canada Day is what you make of it. So, it’s going to be a good one,” said Ray Brendzy, who arrived in a car with three generations of his family.
Surrey normally throws one of the largest concerts in the country on Canada Day, but this year the pandemic forced them to take the show online.
Hosted by hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, the virtual celebration included musical performances, children’s programming and even a fitness segment for seniors.
Back at the PNE, under cloudy skies and occasional heavy downpours, many people were thankful for the drive-thru concept.
“It was a very unique experience. It actually helps with the rain. We can go through it and it doesn’t even matter,” said Andrew Myers as he waited in line in his car at the drive-thru food fair.
The PNE brought out some of its summer classics for the event, including corndogs, cotton candy and lemonade.
Frost says people should stay tuned because the PNE plans to roll out more events over the next several weeks.
“The hardest part over the last few months has been weeding out all the ideas to narrow down on a few,” she said. “We’ve come up with some greats ideas to help bring people back and to help the PNE stay alive and relevant during this time.”