Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society’s Margaret Johnson and Bill McGuire present Mayor Bill McKay with the official 2015 Nanaimo Marine Festival T-shirt and set of bathtub coins.

Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society’s Margaret Johnson and Bill McGuire present Mayor Bill McKay with the official 2015 Nanaimo Marine Festival T-shirt and set of bathtub coins.

Nanaimo Marine Festival honours navy

NANAIMO - Sailpast on Wheels parade and fireworks all part of annual event prior to Bathtub race.

The 49th annual Nanaimo Marine Festival is set to run from Thursday (July 23) to Sunday, and while people can enjoy the usual celebrations, the premier event has seen some tweaking.

The course for the  Great International World Championship Bathtub Race has been adjusted. Previous races ended at Departure Bay beach, but this year, the starting and finish lines are both situated at Maffeo Sutton Park.

It is something the society has always wanted, said Bill McGuire, Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society commodore. It was becoming a situation where people would come and watch the start and not the finish or vice versa. Departure Bay was also becoming packed with activity.

“That became, not a problem, as much as it was something that we wanted to get away [from] and we’re getting ready for our 50th anniversary next year in 2016 and we thought, what a better time to make a big change like this,” said McGuire.

The marine festival will also give a nod to the Armed Forces with a big military display, as 2015 represents a milestone for the military facility at Nanoose Bay.

“We are saluting the 50th anniversary of the [Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges] Ranch Point, where a lot of testing is done on different facets of the navy and it’s a shared operation with the United States Navy and the Canadian navy.”

The navy salute theme extends to the Sailpast on Wheels Parade on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The route begins at Fitzwilliam and Selby streets, to the Bastion and along Front Street to Maffeo Sutton Park.

The fireworks start 10 p.m. Saturday over Nanaimo harbour, and the Bathtub race begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday.