Happy Birthday Canada.
Yes, it is getting to that time of year again, and with Canada celebrating 150 years, the city of Airdrie is pulling out all the stops.
Celebrations officially kicked off on April 20, when Airdrie’s Nose Creek Valley Museum hosted Reel Canada’s National Canadian Film Day. What was the movie that brought Airdrie residents together?
“Two showings of the classic Anne of Green Gables,” says Nose Creek Valley Museum curator Laurie Harvey.
Next, something residents can enjoy leading up to July, flowers. In October 2016, the City’s parks department decided that the best way to incorporate Canada’s momentous birthday was to incorporate red and white into the annual flower beds.
“We started out by planting 750 tulip bulbs in the fall,” says Blair Lenton, City parks journeyman landscape gardener.
The tulips, purchased from Home Hardware Building Centre, are the Canada 150 tulip, a flower that is both red and white to resemble the Canadian flag. Also being planted in the flower beds, and expected to be ready for June, are plants that grow well in Alberta’s climate.
“We will be planning petunias, geraniums, snapdragons, canna lilies, rudbeckia, pansies, ipomoea, ornamental grasses, daylilies and dracaena in our beds this season,” says Lenton. “The majority of these plants will be a combination of red and white in colour.
“Introducing the red and white flowers to our parks is our way of contributing to the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday,” adds Lenton.
Also taking place in June is one of two projects being spearheaded by Creative Airdrie Society. As a board, Creative Airdrie decided they couldn’t let Canada’s birthday go unnoticed, and as such, they began scouting out ways to participate.
Enter Sharing Dance.
Canada’s National Ballet School is hosting Sharing Dance Canada 2017, a free program aimed to teach citizens, young and old, a dance that is to be performed flash-mob style across the country beginning on June 2.
“The National Ballet School has chosen a handful of key cities that will be hosting this project,” says Deanna Hunter, chair of the board of directors for Creative Airdrie.
An alumnus of the National Ballet School has been designated to teach each of the chosen cities.
“Calgary was chosen as one of those cities, but the alumni for Calgary lives in Airdrie. She approached Creative Airdrie, saying, ‘we are doing this thing in Calgary, and I would love Airdrie to get involved.’”
Creative Airdrie said yes, and have already begun learning the routine.
“People across Canada are learning a dance that was specifically designed to showcase Canadian culture,” says Hunter. “The Airdrie flash mob will take place sometime in early June, and then the dancers are going to dance in the Calgary one.”
While the free classes have already started, Hunter says all anyone interested has to do is either come to one of the classes (times and places are listed on Creative Airdrie’s website) or search for the rehearsal videos located on The National Ballet School’s Sharing Dance Canada 2017 webpage.
“It’s just going to be the coolest thing ever,” adds Hunter.
There will, of course, be the Airdrie staples on Canada Day 2017: the parade and fireworks. For the parade enthusiasts, previous guests including The Stampede Outrider Showband will be back entertaining on the parade route.
New additions to the parade include the Jurassic Mini Monster Truck, The Olde West Raiders, and some special guests to be announced at a later date.
As always, the recipient of the Soul of Airdrie Award will be taking the reins as parade marshal.
“The parade is always so much fun,” says Stacey Watts, Airdrie Parades and Fireworks director of media. “It’s a chance for the community to ‘remember your neighbours.’”
Last year alone, approximately 40,000 residents came out to enjoy the parade.
Following the parade, Airdrie residents are encouraged to travel to Chinook Winds Park, where a family-friend event will take place from 3 to 10 p.m. Katavállo Entertainment Group will bring in acts for the concert stage, The Olde West Raiders will perform their show, and food trucks, balloons and henna will round out the event at Chinook Winds.
Something sure to dazzle Airdrie residents is the ever-popular fireworks display. With an increased budget, the fireworks will take place at Chinook Winds at approximately 10:45 p.m., weather permitting, and the exact location will be announced closer to the date.
Watts recommends keeping an eye on the Airdrie Parades Facebook page for all the latest updates on everything happening July 1.
As for why almost three years of planning went into the Canada 150 parade and fireworks, Watts has an enthusiastic answer.
“Along with Canada’s 150, Airdrie Parades is celebrating its 50th anniversary, so why not pull out all the stops and showcase Airdrie and Canada with a big event? Come and spend the whole day in Airdrie,” Watts says.
Finally, with the patriotic spirit still going strong, Creative Airdrie will be participating in the Canada 150 Mosaic.
“Airdrie is participating in a Canada-wide public art project that will leave big beautiful mosaics in hundreds of cities across Canada,” says Hunter. “Each city is depicted on a train car, and if all the mosaics were ever all lined up, they would show Canada.”
From Sept. 15 to 17, 400 citizens of Airdrie will attend workshops, tasked with painting a 4×4 square that will eventually be put together to resemble the community. When the mosaic is completed, it will be donated to the city to be installed in a public place.
With a never-ending list of ways to celebrate, Canada’s 150th birthday is shaping up to be its biggest party yet.