Last Wednesday, North Grenville celebrated Canada Day with its first ever virtual event. Kemptville District Community Association (KDCA) Presi- dent, Wendy Embleton, noted that they had already submitted their financial request to the Municipality at the end of February in planning a Canada Day celebration. When COVID-19 hit in March, the KDCA was faced with figuring out how to hold a celebration without a physical gathering. Wendy says that Mayor Nancy Peckford was adamant that they go ahead and organize something, even if a Party in the Park was not going to be possible this year.
The KDCA reached out to many of the local organizations to help put together the virtual celebration, and The Oxford Mills Community Association (OMCA) came on board because they, too, could not hold their usual celebration in Maplewood Park. Vice President of the KDCA, Samantha Rivet-Stevenson, said the Municipality was also a huge supporter of the event. “The Municipality has been nothing short of amazing in terms of the support they have given us,” she said. “Certainly, we could not have done it without them.”
The KDCA also partnered with local media to run and promote the event. They contacted Chris Walker of Juice FM to see if he would be willing to get involved. He not only agreed to talk about the event on air, but also played music from local artists throughout the day. “This allowed us to showcase local musicians without a stage,” Wendy said. “Chris did a wonderful job with interviews.”
The founding of our country was not only celebrated over the airwaves, but the team of volunteers was also able to put together several other activities to mark the celebration. The first idea they came up with was a house decorating contest. They got around 25- 30 entries, but Wendy was happy to see that many other people in the community decorated their homes, even if they weren’t participating in the contest.
The North Grenville Times signed on to help run a colouring contest for both adults and children by supplying colouring pages in the paper. The picture that was used for the adult colouring contest was from local artist Don Munz, who was thrilled with how they turned out. Wendy says they received around 100 entries in total, and picking the winners was a real challenge. “We went through every one about 17 times.”
The main event for this year’s virtual celebration was the Goose Chase, spear-headed by local resident Jacki Boyer Doucette. The Goose Chase was a scavenger hunt through the community, which had about 350 different challenges with points attached to each task. “It was so rewarding to see the messages from the people who participated,” Wendy says. “It was a lot of fun.”
The KDCA was also able to use some of their budget to purchase $4,400 worth of prizes from local businesses. “We were able to give every penny back to the community,” Wendy says. “That’s certainly what we need during this time.”
Although the KDCA spearheaded the event, it was a true community effort. “Our motto is cohesion and collaboration, and we were really able to pull that together this year,” Wendy said. The KDCA created sub committees to run each of the events, which included individual volunteers from the community, as well as members of the OMCA, municipal council, Juice FM, and the North Grenville Times.
Wendy says putting on the virtual event was definitely more work than throwing a big party at Riverside Park, but it was well worth it. North Grenville is a community that always celebrates Canada Day in style, and 2020 was no exception. “This year was definitely different; but North Grenville always enjoys a celebration on Canada Day, and we couldn’t let this year pass us by.”