Empire Days celebrations in jeopardy

NANAIMO: Dwindling membership, rising costs and a lack of public assistance threatens 145-year tradition.

A 145-year tradition is in danger of slipping into history without additional support from Nanaimo businesses and the community.

The Nanaimo Empire Days Celebration Society’s Victoria Day long weekend events are in jeopardy, forcing an urgent call for assistance.

Roy Linder, society spokesman, said in a press release that membership has declined to 34 members, with only 12 able to remain active.

That, combined with the news the Nanaimo Lions Club is not able to work on the annual downtown parade for 2013 has also raised concerns.

“We are in dire need of more working members and a service club to take over from the Lions to work with the society to invite and organize floats, marching bands, organizations and participants,” said Linder.

Rising costs are hampering society efforts in other aspects of the celebration as well.

The fireworks show in 2012 was cancelled due to a lack of funds, and despite a $5,000 commitment from Casino Nanaimo, the 2013 pyrotechnic display may be grounded as well.

“We are in need of approximately $7,000 more directly, or in our budget to once again provide the community with the usual outstanding fireworks show,” said Linder.

Along with casino money, the society receives help from the City of Nanaimo gaming funds, private donations and fundraisers.

The society is hosting its annual general meeting Tuesday (Oct. 9) at Quarterway Elementary School at 7:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend and show its support.

“It is important for the society to know as soon as possible about any community assistance,” said Linder. “Plans for next year are underway.”

For more information please call 250-751-8567 or 250-758-4713.

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