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 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.
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.