Canada Day festivities are in the works this year, but recreation directors in the region are currently unsure what those festivities will look like because of COVID-19.
“You don’t want to make promises and come up empty,” said Kenan Wilkie, recreation director for the Town of Alberton. “It’s kind of up in the air right now about what will be allowed.”
The province’s Chief Public Health Office would like most Islanders to be vaccinated by July, but it’s hard to say how festivities like Canada Day will look at the moment.
O’Leary’s recreation director said Canada Day is still a priority for his department, and there are full intentions of hosting some sort of event.
“The only thing is if we’re stuck to a cohort of 50, that makes it challenging for in-person,” said Andrew Avery. “The last time we did that (Canada Day celebrations) back in 2019, I think there were upwards of 200 people there for the day. It makes things a little more challenging when you’re trying to do that.”
Aside from some virtual greetings, there weren’t any Canada Day activities in O’Leary in 2020, while Alberton hosted a small scavenger hunt, as did Tignish.
This year, Tina Richard, recreation director for Tignish, said if it’s approved, she would like to do a throwback to a much enjoyed activity from 2019: a bubble run.
“The great thing is, when you’re talking about a run, people are very staggered, so in that way, I think it will work well with COVID,” she explained. “When they do start running, nobody runs at the same speed, so everybody will be in at different times. I really think it’s something we can do with a couple hundred people, and have lots of spacing.”
Part of the enjoyment of Canada Day is being able to celebrate together, and while last year, many Canadians were able to mark the occasion with friends and family through things like video calls, it’s not the same as being able to celebrate together in person.
If larger cohorts are able to occur, Mr Wilkie would like to do something a little bit bigger for Alberton this year.
“I’d like to do fireworks, I haven’t seen that done in Alberton in forever,” he said. “We’d probably have pretty much a full day of stuff planned, if we could get people to gather. Maybe do a barbecue, do fireworks later, maybe do a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and hot dogs, and stuff like that. Hopefully we can get everyone vaccinated, and they can up the capacity limits, and we can do something special this year.”