A crowd of thousands lines Campbell River's downtown streets during last year's Canada Day parade.

Campbell River pulls out all the stops for Canada Day

Volunteer group enters 14th year of making sure celebration provides something for everyone

Campbell River’s Canada Day celebration is among the biggest on Vancouver Island. And organizers are making sure it remains that way.

“Every year when we order fireworks, I ask how many Victoria got,” said Carol Chapman, chair of the all-volunteer committee that has organized Canada Day festivities here for 14 years. “Then I order a little bit more. So we can boast the biggest fireworks on Vancouver Island.”

Campbell River will be pulling out all the stops once again to celebrate the nation’s birthday next Wednesday.

Canada Day will be anchored, as always, by the annual July 1 parade downtown beginning at 4 p.m. And it will be closed with the huge, Quality Foods-sponsored fireworks show on the waterfront at 10:22 p.m.

For a special bonus, the Naval ship HMCS Whitehorse will be in port, offering tours and VIP fireworks viewing. The Air Force will also do its part, with paratroopers again scheduled to drop into Robert Ostler Park between the parade and the fireworks show.

But for more than 24 hours, there are activities, entertainment on three different stages, food and fun for all ages in venues throughout the community.

“If you want to eat, you have to pay,” said Chapman. “But everything else is absolutely free, because the businesses and volunteers in the community have stepped up. When we ask, nobody’s ever wavered.”

Chapman’s committee was formed after a meeting with city officials 15 years ago. She asked why Campbell River didn’t have a Canada Day fireworks display, and was told the money wasn’t available.

Enlisting the sponsorship of Quality Foods, then a relative newcomer to the Campbell River market, Chapman’s group began building the event around the fireworks extravaganza.

Along the way, it has folded a number of existing and new events into the umbrella of Canada Day, including the annual Kid’s Fest previously hosted by Tidemark Theatre, the Huck Finn and Small Fry fishing derbies now sponsored by A Cut Above, and the Boardwalk-sponsored skateboard competition at Willow Point Sportsplex.

Even the Transformation on the Shore chainsaw carving competition and the Run the River dragon boat regatta, which both wrap up this weekend, are advertised as a part of Campbell River’s larger Canada Day extravaganza.

At Willow Point, the day begins with a pancake breakfast by donation from 8-10:30 a.m. at Frank James Park. Entertainment acts, including music and PWA wrestlers, follows and continues through 2:30 p.m.

Entertainment will be held on the Spirit Square Canada Day stage downtown from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., featuring a variety of music, dance and performing arts.

The entertainment moves to the Robert V. Ostler Park stage at 2:30 p.m., with acts continuing until the start of the fireworks show.

Throughout the day, the Canada Day Market will boast vendors lining the streets of Shopper’s Row.

The action actually kicks off the evening of June 30, with a salmon barbecue and car show beginning at 5 p.m., followed by live country music by Backstage Whiskey from  7-9 p.m. at Spirit Square. During the concert, at 7:45 p.m., a western duds contest for all ages will rate your favourite western-themed get-up.

For the full schedule and lineup of activities, check the Canada Day supplement in today’s Mirror.