It’s a year to celebrate as the City marks its centennial, and event organizers promise that 2013 holds a range of ways to mark the occasion.
The Centennial Steering Committee (CSC) was established in the fall of 2010. The goal of the committee is to oversee the development of projects and events that will establish a sense of civic pride in Red Deer through commemorating the past, celebrating the present and that will also be instrumental in creating a vision for the future, officials say.
Celebrations capped off by fireworks on New Year’s Eve at Bower Ponds marked the start of centennial celebrations, said Leslee Burton, the Committee’s events chair person.
“I couldn’t believe how many people showed up,” she said, adding that between 6,000 and 8,000 people dropped by to check out the event. It was also a superb means of letting folks know that 2013 will indeed mark a year of commemorative and celebratory events in Red Deer.
“We want people to experience that pride in Red Deer. One of the biggest things around the community is the participation – people really interacting. We also want people to recognize what they have contributed – whether it be individually, within their workplaces, or within their community groups.
“We also want them to think about what their investments are in the future of this community – how are we going to make it that much more significant?” As Burton points out, these kinds of thoughts tie in nicely with the Centennial Committee’s theme of ‘Create, Celebrate, Commemorate.’
Meanwhile there is plenty to look forward to including a Centennial Cake Competition on Feb. 24 at Parkland Mall. Chefs and bakers are encouraged to prepare a Centennial Cake, which will be displayed in the mall and voted on by the public.
In May, Tree House Youth Theatre will be presenting some special centennial performances as well.
On June 15, centennial organizers are teaming up with the Girl Guides of Canada for a community campfire.
One of the year’s biggest events – the Homecoming Festival – is slated for June 29-30. Highlights include a pancake breakfast, a Centennial Grove dedication, an evening barbecue with entertainment from local band St. James’ Gate and an outdoor movie.
The weekend wraps with the ‘River of Light’ event which launches from Fort Normandeau at 10:30 p.m. A state-of-the-art light show, the River of Light features giant canola oil barrels lit up on the inside and configured in various arrangements to float down the river all the way to Three Mile Bend.
“It will be like a floating light parade.”
July 1 of course marks the annual Heritage Day at Bower Ponds.
“There will really be no reason for anyone to leave Red Deer because it’s going to be so much fun.”
A ‘barn’ or street dance runs July 16 followed by the Westerner Days parade on July 17. Things continue right on into the autumn, with an old-fashioned fall fair at Fort Normandeau on Sept. 21.
Rounding out the year, a Fire and Ice Centennial Closing Ceremony and Lantern Parade runs at City Hall Park on Dec. 12. “At different events we do throughout the year, we will be creating lanterns,” said Burton. On Dec. 12, people are encouraged to bring all of these lanterns to City Hall Park to essentially light up the night.
Organizers have also pointed out that the goal is to encourage those planning special and regular events throughout the year to shape them with the centennial theme in mind.
“We’re really trying to work with all the generations and hit home with them that this is an important part of our history – this 100th year milestone.”
There are also opportunities for volunteers to get involved.
For more information or to learn how to become more involved with the celebrations, or to see a complete list of events, check out www.reddeer2013.ca.
Ultimately, organizers say this year is about appreciating the past and those who worked to build the City as well as continuing to build on that community pride as residents look beyond the 100-year mark.
“We would like people to walk away with a greater knowledge of their community. Hopefully there will also be an increased involvement with some of the local organizations or activities that they may not have been aware of as well,” said Sheila Bannerman, chair of the steering committee and coordinator of the centennial celebrations. “Outside of a lot of fun and learning about the history of Red Deer, that’s our main goal.”
It’s been a hectic time of planning for sure, and it’s a treat to see 2013 finally arrive and the full slate of special events begin. “One of the things that really blows me away is how involved people in Red Deer are. I’ve been increasingly impressed by this community.
“My appreciation for the community has also grown as a result of being in this job.”