Preparations are ramping up for the second annual Nanaimo Heritage Days celebrations happening this May long weekend.
Celebrations launch with a party Saturday (May 21) when a section of Commercial Street will shut down in front of Rewsters Restaurant for REWFest – named for title sponsors, Real Estate Webmasters and Rewsters Restaurant – a day of music, events and family entertainment, complete with a big bouncy castle, train rides, face painting, a children’s western saloon, local vendors, belly dancers and more. REWFest runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fireworks when medicinal marijuana grower Tilray has its way.
The company is this year’s sole sponsor of Heritage Days pyrotechnics with a $15,000 donation to hire award-winning Fireworks Spectaculars to perform the 30-minute Nanaimo Heritage Days Fireworks Show.
“We think that Heritage Days ceremonies are a terrific highlight and kickoff for the summer season in the region and the fireworks are one of the gathering points for families around Heritage Days,” said Philippe Lucas, Tilray vice-president of patient research and advocacy. “I can tell you my seven-year-old is very much looking forward to this, this year.”
The show happens 10 p.m. at Swy-A-Lana lagoon and Newcastle Avenue will be blocked off to accommodate the thousands of spectators expected to attend.
Everyone loves a parade and 33 Heritage Days Parade entries have signed up, so far, including the Nanaimo Concert Band and Snuneymuxw First Nation.
“We have some different ones this year,” said Howard Lockhart, parade coordinator. “The Prison Wardens Honour Guard, they were the first one in.”
Vancouver Island Exhibition has a float entered. So does Cabela’s.
“The Shriners are back,” Lockhart said. “Nanaimo Pride’s in this year. They actually phoned me to ask if I could give them some input into their parade.”
Lockhart said all parade entries will be welcomed right up until parade day and no one will be turned away.
This year’s parade starts at 1 p.m. Sunday (May 22) and follows Victoria Crescent and Commercial Street, Church and Front streets to Maffeo Sutton Park.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue will lead the parade, which will finish with a vintage fire truck. Steve Marshall Ford has supplied classic rides for VIPs and the Old English Car Club will have at least 20 cars in the procession.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 10 members will form the colour guard.
The parade entry list is fleshing out, but Lockhart said he is short of bodies to help with setup and other duties and desperately needs volunteers.
To learn more or volunteer, please visit the Nanaimo Heritage Days website at www.nanaimohd.com.