Nathan Barlow reaches the beach at the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race two years ago. The Nanaimo Marine Festival is being expanded to a whole month for 2017. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Editorial: Marine Fest now Marine Month, and why stop there?

Next month and in subsequent summers, Nanaimo can really make the most of festival season

Marine Fest is now going to be Marine Month, and we shouldn’t stop there.

OK, so 31 days is plenty long enough as a time frame, but over the course of next month and in subsequent summers, Nanaimo can really make the most of festival season.

The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, the Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival and the Silly Boat Regatta recently announced that they’ll strengthen their bond through co-operative marketing and expanded participation in their partners’ events. That’s great, because the more Marine Fest the better, right?

Well, yes, mostly. Maffeo Sutton Park is already packed for each of those three headline events every summer. It can take some pointy elbows and determination to get a good vantage point of the bathtubs coming in at the end of the great race. As for Silly Boat, organizers say they can find patches of grass for a few more community groups to partake in boat-building. Dragonboat numbers are up, but maybe not yet maxed out.

So have we reached peak Marine Fest? Absolutely not. Any and all events on the Nanaimo Marine Festival calendar can be expanded and complemented.

The City of Nanaimo parks and rec department has been studying Maffeo Sutton Park plans off and on over the years, and will need to continue to assess and reassess our premier downtown park and its myriad purposes. It’s interesting that even though our city has sprawled north, our downtown park has, if anything, become even more central as a community gathering place. Maybe there are creative amenities that can improve the experience for park users who visit on the very busiest days.

Sure the park feels packed sometimes, but wouldn’t it be something if we really challenge the capacity of Maffeo Sutton Park?

What we like about Marine Month is that it’s an indication that people are thinking big. Someone once had the crazy idea of racing bathtubs across the Strait of Georgia. What other crazy ideas are out there?

Start planning to pack yourself into the park, Nanaimo. Because we haven’t reached peak Marine Fest yet, not by a long shot.

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