Elmira Le­gion plans to step things up for Re­mem­brance Day

Be­yond the usual pa­rade, the day’s events will in­clude a flyover by WWII air­craft, the ra­tio­nale for up­com­ing fundraiser

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - ALI WIL­SON

THE ROYAL CANA­DIAN LE­GION in Elmira will be host­ing a Le­gion, Com­mu­nity and Fam­ily BBQ Fun Day on September 10.

The fundrais­ing event will be hap­pen­ing to help off­set the costs of a spe­cial ac­knowl­edge­ment of the 100th an­niver­sary of Vimy Ridge and Canada’s 150th birth­day.

To mark the oc­ca­sions, the Elmira Le­gion will have a spec­ta­cle of Sec­ond World War Har­vard fighter planes to fly over­head dur­ing the annual Re­mem­brance Day Ser­vice on Novem­ber 5, re­quir­ing sig­nif­i­cant sup­port through fundrais­ing and com­mu­nity part­ners.

A first-time event, the fun day emerged from a brain­storm­ing ses­sion to look at ways to do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently for this year’s com­mem­o­ra­tion. The fundrais­ing com­po­nent will help cover the ad­di­tional ex­penses.

“The cost of the Re­mem­brance Day comes out of the Le­gion; we have to pay for all of lo­gis­tics and ev­ery­thing. To bring the planes over, that is very, very ex­pen­sive and that is why we are do­ing the event to help off­set some of those costs,” said John Scheeringa, poppy chair­man for the Elmira branch and cochair of the event.

Though a fundraiser, the day will of­fer up ac­tiv­i­ties at a cost af­ford­able to fam­i­lies.

“If you have four or five kids, it won’t be break­ing the bank – it will re­ally be af­ford­able. We have kept the prices low. We are not try­ing to make a killing off of it – we are try­ing to have a fam­ily day to cover our costs, and if we have a lit­tle ex­tra left over, it is go­ing to­wards the event,” he ex­plained.

In ad­di­tion to a BBQ, there will be live mu­sic, a pet­ting zoo, face paint­ing, bal­loon an­i­mals, bouncy cas­tles, karate and dance demon­stra­tions and a car dis­play, with mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles in at­ten­dance.

“In­side we are go­ing to have a mil­i­tary dis­play, ar­ti­facts and uni­forms, and a silent auc­tion,” he said. “So there are go­ing to be all sorts of neat things they can build on.”

The idea for a spec­ta­cle at the Re­mem­brance Day pa­rade snowballed to fill a niche that, as Scheeringa said, serves to pro­vide fam­i­lies the op­por­tu­nity to have an event in the com­mu­nity, by the com­mu­nity, for the com­mu­nity.

“Peo­ple will have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what the Le­gion is. We’re try­ing to en­hance our Re­mem­brance Day event a lit­tle bit and then hav­ing a fam­ily day tossed into it to bring all of the groups to­gether as part­ners in­stead of do­ing sep­a­rate events,” he said.

An­other first, the Le­gion ex­tended the or­ga­niz­ing in­vite to other ser­vice groups in and around Elmira.

“We are go­ing to get the ser­vice clubs in­volved,” he said. “All those folks are go­ing to be com­ing. Part of our mind­set, as well as get­ting the fam­i­lies to­gether out to en­joy, is to get all of the ser­vice clubs to­gether in a com­mon goal and to do some­thing.”

Ul­ti­mately, though, the event is to sup­port the cost of bring­ing in the planes.

Scheeringa said they want to give the younger gen­er­a­tion a spec­ta­cle to help them form a con­nec­tion with why it is we mark Re­mem­brance Day, as with this year mark­ing 72 years since the end of WWII, it is un­likely that a ma­jor­ity have im­me­di­ate fam­ily in­volved.

“We want to do a bit of a spe­cial add-in to our Re­mem­brance Day,” he said, not­ing that it has been pretty struc­tured from year to year. “So this year we wanted to have a can­non salute that will be fir­ing off dur­ing our cer­e­mony, and to have Har­vards do a fly-by in a miss­ing man for­ma­tion.

“I think it is to add that lit­tle wow factor, not that you want to make Re­mem­brance Day have a wow factor, but I think for the kids, the younger gen­er­a­tion ... my fa­ther was in the ser­vice and I talked to him a lot and but the younger kids don’t have that op­por­tu­nity like I did, so I think the wow factor with some­thing like that is re­ally cru­cial. They will roar and shake the ground when they go over, so it is go­ing to be cool.”

The planes will fly in for­ma­tion at about 1,000 feet, the low­est they can fly over a set­tle­ment area, but low enough to shake things up ... lit­er­ally.

“The miss­ing man for­ma­tion is in honor of the man who didn’t make it back, so they leave his po­si­tion va­cant in the for­ma­tion as a thing of re­spect,” he said. “They are pretty spec­tac­u­lar.”

Al­though this is the first of its kind in Elmira, they are hop­ing to con­tinue on year after year.

“I would love to make the planes go­ing over an annual event but, who knows, it may be cost pro­hib­i­tive. This is the first time we are do­ing it and we have al­ready had peo­ple ask if we would do it as an annual event – we are go­ing to see how that goes,” he said.

“If it turns out well and ev­ery­body gets on board well I can see this be­ing a re­ally huge grow­ing event but at this point it is a lit­tle pre­ma­ture.”

The Le­gion will be hold­ing a Le­gion, Com­mu­nity and Fam­ily BBQ Fun Day on September 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the branch on First Street.

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

The Royal Cana­dian Le­gion in Elmira will be host­ing a Le­gion, Com­mu­nity and Fam­ily BBQ Fun Day on September 10 to help raise funds to off­set the cost of hav­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tive spec­ta­cle of WWII Har­vard fighter planes fly over dur­ing the annual Re­mem­brance Day ser­vice. John Scheeringa is co-chair of the event.

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