Sometimes it is amazing the amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making something a success.
In the case of the May 4 visit of the Holland America Zaandam, that was certainly the case. Before the ship even pulled into the Prince Rupert harbour, the waterfront area was packed with people as volunteers put their efforts into making sure Prince Rupert was ready for the ship’s arrival.
I can tell you I was down there around 7:30 in the morning, a full 90 minutes before docking, and it was bustling with activity. There were people putting up displays, people blowing up and tying balloons for along the fences, people getting the info booth set-up and others preparing for the arrival of the ambassador volunteers. There was everyone from high school students to seniors down at the waterfront, all with the common goal of making sure Prince Rupert had its best foot forward for the first and biggest ship of the season.
And that’s just the morning. Throughout the day there were ambassadors and buskers volunteering their time around town and there were people at North Pacific Cannery creating a unique experience there. If you look at the time and effort that went into May 4 before the day itself, I’m sure the number of volunteer hours would boggle the mind.
Did it make a difference? Absolutely, though time will tell to what extent. The smiles on the passengers faces while standing by the RCMP in red serge or being greeted by the mayor or seeing the salmon of the north coast or talking to people about the First Nations art and culture, I think, spoke volumes to how people viewed their welcome to the city. I imagine it will take a bit of time for the Holland America head office to gather and process all of the information, but I don’t see how you can’t be impressed by that kind of reception – especially considering it was volunteer-driven and the majority of people that were there have work or school commitments they were able to get around to help out.
Regardless of what comes from the May 4 cruise visit, the people of Prince Rupert should be proud of the effort that they showed and the civic pride that is present in the community. It’s certainly not every town that could pull off what was pulled off last Friday.