No parade or fireworks will be happening in Prince Rupert this summer at local public events such as Seafest or Canada day festivities organized by the Prince Rupert Special Events Society (PRSES).
For the first time in more than 42 years, Prince Rupert will not be parading in the downtown streets during the second weekend of June’s Seafest event or lining up at the waterfront in awe at the fireworks on Canada day due to COVID-19 cancellations.
“After much discussion it was unanimously decided that the Seafest 2020 and Canada day 2020 festivals are cancelled. This difficult decision was made with the health and well-being of all as our primary concern,” Bev Kilberry, president of the Prince Rupert Special Events Society said.
The board of directors of the PRSES held an on-line meeting on April 7, to discuss the COVID-19 Pandemic and the impact on 2020 community festivals. Kilberry clarified Seafest and the Canada day celebrations are cancelled for this year, not just postponed.
The three-day Seafest event is a major community attraction for Prince Rupert, where thousands of people attend from communities all the way down highway 16, with one group of volunteers who come from as far away as Georgia, U.S.A. each year. Many people will be disappointed. Seafest has many exciting events such as waterfront events, swims out to the bouys, cardboard boat races, kayak rides, magicians, family entertainment, the streets are blocked off and of course there is a the parade, Kilberry said.
Planning for the community events starts months ahead of time, with the last event organized by PRSES being Childrens’ Fest which was held in March and also one of the last major community events before the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. The PRSES had started to plan Seafest in January with entertainment already decided and the Canadian Navy invited to attend. PRSES event usually needs 150 volunteers to block off the streets and organize the food, vendors, entertainment and family events.
Once the threat of COVID-19 has been diminished PRSES will begin to plan, organize and implement the four community festivals they are responsible for, however, there is a question mark over the Winterfest celebration that usually occurs in December as it is still a few months away, Kilberry said.
Funding for Seafest, Canada day celebrations, Winterfest and Childrens’ Fest partially comes from a community enhancement grant which is applied for annually through the City of Prince Rupert.
“I think it’s (the community festivals) going to be something that everyone is going to miss, because you know, I’ve always said this, if we’ve had the great combination of a great theme, a lot of volunteers, and great weather, we have thousands of people down for these days,” Kilberry said.
The cancellations of the community festivals for Canada Day and Seafest follow the guidelines provided by governments, of all levels, to stop the spread of COVID-19. The board of directors believe everyone must all work together and do their part in preventing the spread of this virus and keeping our communities safe, Kilberry said.
“We count on the community’s continued support and in particular, the involvement of volunteers to ensure the future of these festivals.”
“Covid-19, may be declining, but no one wants to push the envelope, (by having) a mass gathering, and all of a sudden have a resurgence…I think people may be disappointed but also hopefully they will understand the reasoning behind this. And I’m hoping the future ones we have can be bigger and better.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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