Larger crowds at Canada Day festivities
Organizer Allan Nathanson says changing times of events in Sydney area were ‘common-sense’ approach
New Canadian Sheikh Ali brought his three young children to Neville Park in Whitney Pier to celebrate the country’s 148th birthday on Wednesday.
Ali graduated as an international student from Cape Breton University. Once he earned his accounting certification at Saint Mary’s University, he decided to raise his family in Sydney.
Originally from Bangladesh, Ali was granted Canadian citizenship two years ago. He said his children became citizens upon their birth in Canada.
“The people here are so nice. You can stop and talk with anyone,” he said as he pushed his youngest child, Abdur-Rahman Sheikh, in a stroller.
Unlike larger urban areas, Ali said nobody seems to be in a rush and it’s the relaxed attitudes of so many he found attractive.
“And there’s the natural beauty. You can drive some place 15 to 20 minutes to get to a nice beach and see the ocean.”
A large crowd turned out for the Canada Day morning celebrations in Neville Park.
It included a pancake breakfast and music, with entertainment for the children.
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s recreation department repositioned the times for local events so there would be little, if any, overlap, allowing families to attend one event after another.
Allan Nathanson, organizer for the Neville Park Canada Day festivities, said switching to an earlier time made sense to him and it has almost doubled the number of visitors this time. “It’s very gratifying,” he said. He said he’s given up trying to keep an official tally of how many people attended, but he believed it was close to 1,000 people.
Nathanson said when the outdoor breakfast began at 9 a.m., he saw families with younger children. And that was the case throughout the morning.
“If you look around here, there are all small kids. You don’t have the 10 and over — it’s all little kids, which is interesting,” he said.
“And so where are those kids? They’re home in bed sleeping in, so what you see here is all little kids, which is great.”
Ali’s two oldest, Abdul-Aziz Sheikh, 4, and Rukiya Sheikh, 2, were competing for his attention. Both wanted balloon animals.
One table over, two-year-old Kyron Phalen of Sydney was having his face painted so he could masquerade as a puppy dog.
Kyron’s mom, Natasha Gaigneur, said it was Kyron’s grandmother’s idea to attend the festivities at Neville Park.
“We always go somewhere on Canada Day. We’ve tried Petersfield Park, Queen Elizabeth’s Park — we go pretty much everywhere,” she said.
As the Neville Park celebration slowly wound day around noon, Gaigneur said her family would take in the afternoon at Petersfield Provincial Park in Westmount.
Activities there continued until 4:30 p.m. with several children’s games and entertainment provided by the Privateers.
Edwardsville resident David Rudderham spent the entire afternoon at the park. He said it’s been a family tradition for the past 28 years.
“My girls grew up here, running around playing with their friends and that, and also listening to the entertainment. It’s just a good place to sit down relax under a tree and have a good day with everybody,” he said.
It was a similar story in Dominion where Terri Lynn Fougere brought her three children to festivities at Hawks Field so they could enjoy a stress-free day following the end of the school year.
Fougere and her children Emily, 8, Hannah, 6, and Jesse, 2, were all wrapped in the red and white of the Canadian flag. Emily even sported maple leaf eyeglasses.
“We always dress like this. It’s the kids’ idea. They like to make their own stuff for everything — Halloween, Canada Day,” she said with a laugh.
In North Sydney, Canada Day celebrations kicked off at 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot beside Emera Centre Northside.
Some folks left early, including one woman who didn’t want to give her name, saying that the venue lacked the atmosphere of Archibald Wharf, where previous celebrations had been held. In May, the CBRM council gave final approval for the controversial sale of the waterfront greenspace to Canadian Marine Engineering Ltd.
But the venue was of no concern for Glace Bay residents Brian and Jackie Warcop, who made their annual pilgrammage to the Northside for the July 1 celebrations.
“We come over here every year — today we started at Indian Beach and then made our way over here,” said Brian, a retired coal miner who brought along two lawn chairs that came complete with roofs.
The celebrations moved to the Sydney waterfront for an evening concert that attracted about 2,000 people and included performances by the Jordan Musycsyn Band and the Barra MacNeils.
The evening concluded with a fireworks display over Sydney harbour.
Sheikh Ali of Sydney took his three young children to Neville Park in Whitney Pier to enjoy the games and activities Wednesday morning. Ali, second from right, is with his children, from left, Abdur-Rahman Sheikh, Abdul-Aziz Sheikh and Rukiya Sheikh. Ali is originally from Bangladesh but received Canadian citizenship two years ago.
All dressed for the occasion of Canada’s 148th birthday, Dominion resident Terri Lynn Fougere and her kids donned the red and white with a few flag and maple leaf accessories to match. Fougere’s children, from left, are Hannah, 6, Jesse, 2, and Emily, 8, and they took in Canada Day activities at Hawks Field in Dominion on Wednesday.
While most of the large crowd at Sydney’s waterfront celebrations listened to the live entertainment, one-year-old Tarinabo John found that her Canadian flag made an ideal toy.