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Fireworks light up Nanaimo's Empire Days celebrations

Barbara Desprez makes her entrance as Queen Victoria at the May Queen Heritage Tea at St. Paul’s Anglican Church hall on Saturday. The tea serves as a kickoff event for Nanaimo Empire Days celebrations, which take place on Victoria Day long weekend. - KARL YU/The News Bulletin
Barbara Desprez makes her entrance as Queen Victoria at the May Queen Heritage Tea at St. Paul’s Anglican Church hall on Saturday. The tea serves as a kickoff event for Nanaimo Empire Days celebrations, which take place on Victoria Day long weekend.
— image credit: KARL YU/The News Bulletin

While there were doubts about the Nanaimo Empire Days’ fireworks display in late January due to a funding shortfall, the Nanaimo skyline will be illuminated Sunday night (May 18).

Nanaimo Empire Days celebrations take place during Victoria Day long weekend and will include a parade and numerous other activities.

“[The fireworks] were a bone of contention, as they are every year, because we don’t know if we have enough money but we decided that if we’re going to continue our Empire Days celebrations, we’re going to have to find a way to keep the fireworks going,” said Roy Linder, publicity chairman and society director. “We rustled up some money and the fireworks are there.”

Celebrations kicked off Saturday with the May Queen Heritage Tea. Upcoming events include the crowning of Makayla Mitchell as the new May Queen Friday (May 16) at 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256, 1630 Wellington Rd.

Saturday (May 17) will see Mitchell and her May Queen party taking part in events around the city, including firing of the cannon next to the Bastion at noon, plus the parade on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

The Bastion Running Club’s Bastion Mile road race, which starts the parade at 12:50 p.m., and family events Sunday at Diana Krall Plaza were new additions last year and look to be bigger and better this year, said Linder. There will be a pancake breakfast at the plaza in the morning and hot dogs will be on sale at St. Paul’s Anglican Church at noon.

The deadline for entering the parade is Thursday (May 15) and according to Linder, it is shaping up to be sizable.

“I talked to someone early [Saturday] morning and we have over 40 entries in the parade, so it’s a good-sized parade,” Linder said.

The route begins at Victoria Road, to Victoria Crescent, down Commercial Street, over to Front Street and ending at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Empire Days focus on heritage, harkening back to the celebrations that coal miners had on Victoria Day, Linder said.

For a schedule of events or to find out more information about Nanaimo Empire Days, please go to www.nanaimoempiredays.com.

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