Celebrate Canada Day in style, with the traditional Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-Lake pancake breakfast and barbecue.
Although there were pop-up celebrations the last two years, club members are excited to be back in Simcoe Park, doing what they do best on our national holiday.
Pancakes and sausages — two of each — along with juice and coffee, are served from 8 to 10:30 a.m, with lots of picnic tables scattered throughout the park for seating, says Rotary member Gary Hatton, chairing this year’s event.
Then volunteers transition to a barbecue that runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., serving 1/3 pound burgers; Great Canadian beef and pea meal burgers, and 1/4 pound hot dogs.
Organizing the event after a two-year absence is a bit of a challenge, Hatton says, not knowing whether the “post-pandemic” feeling in the air will draw a record-breaking number of people, or whether there will be some hesitancy that results in lower numbers. But based on what’s happening at airports and with travellers, and other local events, they’re planning for the “break-away crowd” of locals, people across the region and tourists all ready to celebrate NOTL-style.
This year, the folks who brought their Santa Run to NOTL and have been also organizing a Canada Day run in Burlington for 15 years are returning to NOTL July 1. Their five-kilometre run will start at the St. Mark’s Church-Byron Street side of the park, and Hatton says he expects friends and family cheering them on may wander over to the Rotary breakfast, as will those who finish their run and want to load up on carbs.
Beginning at 11 a.m. there will be a car show from the Niagara branch of the Antique and Classic Car Club of Canada. For several years the car show was an important part of the Canada Day event, lining the path from Byron Street down into the park with a collection of beautiful, shiny classics to admire, and Hatton says it’s good to have it back again.
Throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and running until 3 p.m., there will be musical entertainment, with Juliet Dunn, Peter O’Shea, and a small back-up band, along with face-painting and clowns to keep the kids in the crowd happy.
Hatton says it takes about 60 volunteers to put on the Canada Day event, not an easy task after a two-year absence and with a 75-member club — not everyone is available to do the jobs they may have done for several years, up to 2019.
“We have a few holes still to fill. We’re also counting on family members, and the holes are filling up, although not quite as quickly as I’d like.”
At 3 p.m., Rotary volunteers begin helping to set up for the cake walk when it arrives in Simcoe Park, although it’s not a Rotary event, he says. The cake parade begins at 2:45 p.m., with the 41st Regiment of Foot Fife and Drum Corps accompanying a giant cake, travelling along Queen Street and concluding in the park. Once it’s cut and served, Canada Day celebrations shift to Fort George, which is open from 10 a.m. to tour buildings, visit with costumed interpreters, enjoy a musket demonstration, and more, with free admission. Festivities in the fort ramp up and continue through the evening, ending with a fireworks display.