Canada Day celebration moves back to downtown Chilliwack

The July 1 event is coming back to the Landing site, a triumphant return after a decade-long stint at Chilliwack Heritage Park.

This church service on July 1

This church service on July 1

The much-loved Canada Day celebration is moving back to downtown Chilliwack for 2012.

And it will be the “biggest and best” celebration the city has ever had, said one of the organizers at a press conference yesterday.

The community event is shifting back to the Chilliwack Landing site for July 1, a triumphant return after a decade-long stint at Chilliwack Heritage Park.

“Times have changed,” said Rod Hudson, executive director of the Chilliwack Community Arts Council. “Heritage Park is now a very busy facility.”

The Canada Day celebration has been organized by a planning committee of the Arts Council for the last 17 years, and the facilities are now all booked for 2012 on the Landing site, in part to reflect a sports-oriented theme.

“We’re also firm believers that these kind of events have to be changed up every five years or so,” Hudson said, emphasizing the move will breathe even more energy into the largest one-day event in Chilliwack.

It also dovetails with the City of Chilliwack’s goals of encouraging more events and activities to be brought into the downtown core.

“Last year the theme was agriculture, and so when the committee met after the event last year, it was decided that the theme this year would be sports.”

The organizers had difficulty imagining how they would pull off a sports-related theme at Heritage Park, since the lights don’t even have protective grills for balls to bounce off.

All of that added up to the idea of moving Canada Day to the Landing.

“With the name change from the old Ag Rec Centre to the Landing Sports Centre, and addition of Leisure Centre and Prospera Centre, the Old Exhibition Grounds have been developed into a well-rounded sports complex,” Hudson said.

The July 1 celebration will greet early risers starting at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at Evergreen Hall hosted by Sardis Kiwanis, with proceeds going to the Special Olympics. Since it falls on a Sunday, a multi-denominational church service will be held in front of the grandstand.

The day is filled with activities at different venues to keep folks entertained and active, and lots of live musical entertainment. There will be a bouncy house, carnival rides, tennis, skate park tournament, dog agility, bocci ball and horseshoes.

The Canada Day excitement will come to a close at 10 p.m., as usual, with a spectacular fireworks display by Midnight Pyro.

“Bring a picnic, spread your blanket on the grass and celebrate this wonderful country’s 145th birthday party right here in Chilliwack. We promise there will be something for everyone.”