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Crowds flock to Empire Days celebrations

Fireworks lit the sky and cheers filled the air as Nanaimo celebrated a 144-year tradition on the Victoria Day long weekend.

Crowds flocked to the downtown, taking in a host of Empire Days events and Ron Hopper, president of the Nanaimo Empire Days Celebration Society, said it all went off without a hitch.

“We managed to do another one,” he said.  “Even the weather co-operated with us.”

Sunday’s parade and fireworks competed for highlight of the weekend, but Hopper said both were well attended.

“The crowds for the parade were absolutely terrific and the American bands certainly added something to it. They always seem to enjoy themselves coming up here,” he said.

“Everybody that I talked to thought the fireworks were a wonderful display. We’ve had nothing but positive comments.”

The weekend also included a visit from six Canadian Navy vessels, including HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Saskatoon.

More than 300 visitors took part in a two-hour open house aboard the Nanaimo and Saskatoon.

“We’ve been bringing these vessels in since 1997, so it’s good to see everybody go down and support the navy,” said Hopper.

The society hosts its wrapup meeting in June, but Hopper said discussions have already taken place on what could be changed and improved for next year

“[Planning] never stops, it just goes on and on,” he said. “Next year is a big anniversary for the Shriners and they are having a convention in Nanaimo, so we’ll probably use them as the focus of the parade. We already have some ideas for the Grand Parade Marshall for next year.”

 

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