See you in Hatley on Canada Day !
It’s Float-making season
Every July 1st people just seem to come out of the woodwork, many from the village of Hatley itself, to join the Hatley Canada Day Committee in putting on one of the region’s most popular family events: the Hatley Canada Day Celebration.
Whether they’re setting up tables for the artisans, directing traffic, collecting donations for the free event at the entrances or handing out the traditional wooden nickels with the day’s programs, without these perennial volunteers this one hundred and six year-old event just wouldn’t happen.
Shirley Brunelle and Mead Baldwin are just two of those volunteers who will be heading off early to the Hatley Commons on July 1st to get ready for their task: judging the entrants in the parade. “I worked on the Roads Committee for about twenty-five years collecting donations, then I took a little break. About five years ago when the previous parade judges, Thelma Coté and Corinne Drew, stepped down, the committee approached me to judge the floats,” explained Mrs. Brunelle who moved to Hatley with her husband Jim in 1974. Understanding that it’s ‘community involvement’ that really makes a community, they have both been active members of Hatley, Shirley as a town councilor and then the mayor, while Jim was active in the volunteer fire department.
“It’s a big job on the roads,” continued Mrs. Brunelle. “It starts at 9:30 and as you get closer to parade time the line-up of cars is incredible. At one point they have to stop all the cars until the parade is over, but most people are respectful; they know how it works.”
“I’m just a junior judge – I was a rookie last year. But Shirley has lots of experience so it worked out well,” said Reverend Mead Baldwin, a minister with the United Church. “Before I became a judge I was parking cars, directing traffic; they always need help to put on that event,” mentioned Mead who grew up in Baldwin Mills and who has been attending the Hatley Canada Day celebration for as long as he can remember. “I’ve been on floats and I’ve helped design floats. The ‘Strong and Free’ theme is a little challenging this year,” admitted Reverend Baldwin.
The two judges had some good advice for float makers who have their ‘eye on the prize’, those hoping to win some of the cash prizes handed out to the three top entrants in each of the six categories: Senior, Junior, mini-floats, specials (anything that doesn’t fit into the other categories), semis and decorated bikes. “It’s important to think of the theme; you need a starting point. I think it’s nice when the whole family gets involved in making a float, and if they enjoy making it, it will show!” said Mrs. Brunelle.
“In my mind, you don’t just stick people on a float; you need decorations, art, and a little comedy is good, something that makes you smile or surprises that may you look, then look again. You have to have passion and put effort into it. A good example of that would be last year’s CAB Rediker Flames, from Ayer’s Cliff. They were so passionate and they had a huge banner that they made and were walking with,” commented Mead about last year’s first place winners of the ‘Specials’ class.
What float designers should keep in mind is that the “Overall Effect” is most important (50%), followed by originality (20%), theme portrayal (10%) and the work involved (20%). “One thing about floats is that kids love to be on them, waving at the crowd. And grandparents love to see their grandkids on a float,” mentioned Reverend Baldwin.
Both Shirley and Mead enjoy everything that comes along with being a Canada Day Parade judge. “We get the best view of the parade up on the balcony. We get to really see all the floats, all the joy of the kids,” commented Mead. “You feel like you’ve done a small part to help out, you see all the people, all the floats and all the effort people put into the floats. That’s one of the best things about being a judge,” said Shirley.
“Most people look forward to July 1st in Hatley; I don’t think we’ve ever missed it. Friends and family come every year to stay with us for it, and we’re not the only residents who have visitors on July 1st. Many people schedule their vacations around the parade,” she added.
“My part in the event is just a small one. It’s not one person that can make an event like this happen; it’s everyone working together!” she concluded.
Reverend Mead Baldwin, from Waterville, will be judging floats at the Hatley Canada Day Celebration along with fellow judge, Shirley Brunelle.
Floats, like this one at last year’s Canada Day, don’t have to be fancy, just imaginative!
The Ayer’s Cliff Flames of the CAB RH Rediker won a prize at last year’s event with their great enthusiasm.