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    Categories: Arts & Culture

Celebrate with our troops on Friday

Vehicles like this 1943 Staghound from the Second World War that was a part of the 12 Manitoba Dragoons regiment will be on display.

There will be more than 12 solid hours of patriotic good times going on at Edmonton Garrison on Friday.

Organizers at the base and officials with Sturgeon County are throwing a huge Canada Day party the likes of which few have seen before.

“We do have a lot going on and it’s going to be a great day,” said Troy Grant, personnel support programs manager at CFB Edmonton.

The retired soldier wasn’t kidding. People should try to arrive early and stay late for the jam-packed festivities that practically beg for their own program guide. Reading through the schedule of events is an exercise in determination, but Grant says there’s something for everyone.

“The real deal about this day is giving back to the greater community, giving them an event where they can come with their families and enjoy the day in a safe environment that just has a lot of stuff for the family to do. Come out and join with us.”

He also added that it’s a great way to pay thanks to “the community for the great support that they’ve given us over the years, over the decades really.”

While the celebration is free, there will be opportunities for people to donate to the Support Our Troops Fund, a program for Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services. The fund is the umbrella that includes the Military Family Fund, the Soldier On Fund and the Hospital Comforts Fund.

“There isn’t any other fund that I can think of where so much is done by so few people for so many folks.”

He stated the overhead for administration of the fund is less than three per cent, meaning a very high percentage of donations actually gets to the ultimate beneficiaries.

Last year the garrison held its first large-scale Canada Day celebration with the general public. There were more than 10,000 people in attendance and organizers hope to best that tally with their current line-up of events. This year’s attendance is expected to top 20,000.

“It will be Sturgeon County’s largest event ever hosted. That’s pretty exciting for us,” exclaimed Kyle Reiling. The economic development officer with Sturgeon knows better than most people how much work has gone into this one day.

He is clearly thrilled that they’ve put together such a diverse offering of entertainment and culture.

“The opportunity to put on a really good event — a free event — for families was something that we were really interested in.”

“It’s a full day. There’s something going on every 15 minutes.”

As he went through the complete list of events, he wasn’t sure which ones excited him more. He knows there will be lots of people there for all of the performers, appearances and vehicle displays, especially the military car crush.

“We’ll be crushing five cars with tanks throughout the day,” he laughed. “There’s many, many things going on. It’ll be a crazy day.”

Apart from all of that, the food is expected to be a real crowd pleaser with more than 40 local dishes.

Grant ended by saying it’s a real honour for the base to host Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as he does a fly-by in an F-86 Sabre, a jet fighter that stopped being produced more than 50 years ago.

“How many opportunities in a lifetime do you have to see something that incredible? This guy is just getting back from the Russian space program and heading over to work back at NASA.”

“It’s going to be great,” Grant said.

The Canada Day celebrations at CFB Edmonton are held in conjunction with the larger festivities of the Sturgeon County Bounty.

Schedule of Events

Families will be treated to a number of displays and activities starting in late morning and running ’til almost midnight on Friday, July 1.
Between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. attendees can enjoy:
o Displays of military equipment and vintage military vehicles;
o The Garrison mascots;
o The car and motorcycle show and shine;
o Kiddies’ commando course;
o Family/children related events including clowns, inflatable games, ponies, carousel, balloon art, and face painting;
o The Indy cars;
o The static displays of a helicopter, ridged hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) and small arms;
o The fire department display and challenge.

Other events during the day include:
o The Sturgeon County Bounty food tasting event from 1130 to 1430 hours;
o The CF-18 flyover at 1300 hours
o Aerial acrobats and F-86 Sabre flyover (by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield) from 1400 to 1600 hours;
o A military drum line;
o Tank car crush;
o Zipline;
o Cultural performances;
o Appearances by the Edmonton Oilers and the Octane Team;
o Fireworks with musical accompaniment including O Canada starting at 2300 hours.

The Grandstand will open at 1700 hours with two stages. The main stage will feature Ain’t No Rodeo, Frankie Mcqueen, Harry Wojak, Kory Wlos, Beverly Mahood and headliners Spirit of the West. Stage B will showcase accordion players, an Aboriginal band and Ukrainian dancers.

Admission is free. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and stay for the full day.

CFB Edmonton is located north of 195 Avenue along Highway 28. To enter the site, go north on Hwy. 28 (97 Street) and turn east at either 195 Ave. or Sturgeon Road and follow the signs. There will be free parking on site.

To learn more about the celebration, please visit www.startinsturgeon.ca.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.