The first of July is Canada Day.
All Canadians know this. And a fair few other people do as well. Visit any city with a major Canadian ex-pat community and there will be a Canadian bar or some sort of celebration will be organized by some patriotic Canuck.
For me, Canada Day means Sportsday at Rockcrest.
Rockcrest is an anachronism, a collection of 20 (former summer) houses down near Crescent Beach where to celebrate the day of Canada’s birth, there is a party. Each year has a theme for the parade; two years ago it was ‘the Olympics’, last year was ‘Music’ and this year was ‘Cultural Events’.
I’ve missed the past two years living in South Korea, but this year I managed to attend, not only attend but my family and my house pretty much organizes and runs most of the day’s events. There is an intentionally cheesy song, and equally kitschy parade (our house went 30 strong… Christmas in July. About 27 elves, 2 reindeer and 1 Santa… no guesses as to who ended up being Santa.)
Other cultural event groups were – Cinqo de Mayo, Chinese New Year, Expo 86, Labour Day (all the women appeared to be 9 1/2 months pregnant) and a truly confusing Gypsy Camp.
Before the parade things naturally kick off with a rendition of “O Canada” in front of house #14, then there is the bike parade. It’s been interesting to watch the waxing and waning of contestants as there are generational cycles that are clearly waxing about now, about 5 years ago there were about 10 children in the bike parade, this year there were closer to 35 – bikes, scooters, wagons, a dangerous motorized scooter, tricycles, ridable toy trucks and the odd looking balance bike. One house has always led the bike parade and this year was no different, it used to be Grumpy Old Man Haney on his motorbike and he’d zoom around the property trying to exhaust the kids before the sugar high takes hold. This year it was one of his grandsons on a mountain bike.
The biggest event of the day are the races. My family organizes and runs the races. I am the host. For roughly 3 hours I talk into a microphone, marshalling the age groups and announcing the next event and adding my own cheeky commentary as the races unfold.
Years ago my Mom and my aunt managed to run this event almost by themselves, as their children and nieces and nephews have grown into adults, we’ve been assigned various tasks. Although admittedly some of us do a LOT more than others. (And I’m not looking at my relatives who have toddlers – but people know and notice.)
My Mom and aunt now keep the starting line in order and hand out the various implements for the events; sacks for the sack race, water and sponges for the water relay, eggs for the egg toss.
I’m on the microphone.
My two aunts and one cousin hand out the ribbons and move the finish line; first, second, third, participation or yolk-on-you.
The rest of the house #6 help out when not chasing down their wee ones.
This year over 200 people took part, of course, some houses are more enthusiastic than others… and again, we know and notice those houses who opt not to participate in the festivities.
Other houses have tried to run Sportsday… once. Partway through the games they got thirsty and wandered off to quench their thirst. Mom and my aunt rescued that near debacle, and our house has organized it since.
Every year there are random occurrences that I can’t prepare for, this year it was the 2 year old who ran every single Dash. He started in his own 2 and under category and then his mother would hold him back and about 3 seconds after the next group started, he’d chug his way along behind them. All the way up to the Over 25 Dash.
Later on I found out from his mother that when he crashed in the afternoon, he crashed HARD.
The events; Dashes, Egg and Spoon, Sack Race (Quit cheating Nathan!), Obstacle Course, Water Relay and the finale, the Egg Toss.
Since I’ve been the host I’ve made a change or two to the Egg Toss… mostly for my own amusement. In addition to teasing people who’ve watched me grow up, I added the fun (for me) Mass Throw. It takes WAY too long to watch each couple throw their egg one after the other. Nope, count up; 1 – 2 – 3 and let those vibrantly dyed eggs fly!
Alas there weren’t any truly memorable egg splatters but a good time was had by all.
For me, the best moment was not the compliments I received or the fun I had creating the obstacle course (hockey, soccer, gold AND football were represented) but for me it was announcing the three new people who have moved into the complex this year as well as pointing out Arnold and Ella were the last original members of Rockcrest.
That earned a spontaneous, 200 strong applause.
And since I’ve known them both since before I can remember, as they watched and helped teach me to swim and used to give me candy whenever we visited, that is what I’ll take away from being able to host the 2011 Rockcrest Canada Day Sportsday.
(That… and tipping over those Kirk/Moore girl’s carafe in the water relay. Hey, I don’t race any more, doesn’t mean I can’t still cheat!)
My Dad doesn’t take part much in Sportsday, but he always cooks the roast. While most of the house deals with ribbons and races, he barbeques a monstrous roast of beef. Everyone else helps out with salads and desserts. Oh, he also woke up his grandson from a nap to enter him in some races. Naughty Grandpa!
By 5:30 the races are done, the splattered egg yolks are being attended to by the dogs of the property, the pool is packed with people and everyone enjoys a good meal with great friends.
It’s how I always envision Canada Day.
And how I always want to.
O Canada indeed.