Picnic coming next Sunday
Annual event more central this year
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
Sandwiches, Lions Park and a couple thousand of your friends and neighbours. What do these three things have in common? The annual Picnic in the Park, now getting ready for its third outing come next weekend.
Heather Johnson, the director of the Spirit of St. Albert Society, is counting down the days and hours. She practically has visions of gingham blankets dotted with ant intruders already as she makes the final preparations.
“It’s exciting, there’s a kind of high energy right now trying to get everything ready and organized,” she exclaimed.
The society has organized the event since its inception. It has held back on most of its announcements for this year’s picnic until now, just as a way of rejigging its methods to account for public awareness during the summer months. Posters started to go up this week, a sign that disconcerted some residents who found themselves wondering if there would even be a picnic this year.
“We didn’t want to put them up too soon because people forget. We’ve had lots of interest from people returning from last year.”
Despite the scaleback, she hopes to see more people come out, which would mark a resurgence in the picnic’s popularity. Attendance was around 2,000 last year, a significant drop compared to the 10,000 who caught the action for the inaugural event in 2011 a major feature of the city’s sesquicentennial celebrations.
“We’re hoping for about 2,500. It’s a perfect size. If you get too big, it’s not comfortable and there’s too many people and it’s too crowded. We’re just hoping for a casual day in the park,” she explained, later joking, “People are getting ready to go back to school and it’s a last ditch effort for a picnic.”
The event will also be more central as opposed to previous incarnations where the picnic had multiple locations that seemed to diffuse the enthusiasm.
“We’re scaling it back a bit from last year. We had it too spread out last year. We want to have everything in the same area. We’re going to do everything in Lions Park.”
Everyone should still expect a fine time. There will be lots of family-friendly activities including carnival games for the kids. A donation to the food bank will give the attendee a punch card good for the six carnival games on site. There are prizes to be won as well.
People can also expect inflatable fun from Jumpy Things and balloon artists the Balloon Fairies and Russ Neibel on site as well. MP Stables will provide horse and wagon rides.
The entertainment stage will see two local performers, Martin Kerr and Kira Lynn Hladun, rock out in alternating sets.
“They’re both awesome entertainers!”
Kids Help Phone will have an information booth and the local scouts will have a registration table available on site. Food vendors will be provided by Lions Club.
None of this can be accomplished without the help of many hands. Johnson said that there is still a need for 20 to 25 more volunteers. A volunteer group that was previously on board to help had to bow out due to illnesses and other pressing commitments.
“I do need a few more volunteers to run the carnival games and to help with set up and take down.”
Volunteers can be as young as 12 so long as they have their parents’ consent.
“I know lots of kids are looking for volunteer hours for their school.”
Otherwise, everything else is in place to make the day fun and memorable for everyone. Well, almost everything.
“We’re just hoping the weather co-operates. It did last year. We had a beautiful day for a picnic.”
All of the fun takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25 at Lions Park.
For more information, please call 780-887-26-09 or visit www.spiritofstalbert.ca. Volunteer sign-up forms are available on the website as well.