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City's 150th kicks off

The new year is here which means that St. Albert’s anniversary party is on. Almost. The year 2011 marks St.

The new year is here which means that St. Albert’s anniversary party is on. Almost.

The year 2011 marks St. Albert’s 150th anniversary so the changing of the calendar is a significant milestone even though events don’t start until next week, said Margaret Plain, chair of the 150th anniversary committee.

“It’s kind of surreal that it’s actually here because I was appointed chair of this in May of 2008. It’s been part of my life for all that time so it’s nice to see things get actually started.”

The first events kick off next Friday, Jan. 14, which is the date some view as the actual anniversary of St. Albert being settled by the Oblates, Plain said.

Kicking off the schedule next Friday is the production of a W.O. Mitchell curling play entitled The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon. That day also marks the beginning of a three-day run of Pioneerin’ Spirit, a musical about the founding and development of St. Albert.

St. Albert Catholic High School is also launching a production next Friday.

One of the marquee events is the gala scheduled for Jan. 22, which is already sold out and generated solid sponsorship, said Plain, who added the W.O. Mitchell play is also generating a lot of interest.

“Once those things actually happen, I think the momentum will pick up in terms of interest in the other events,” Plain said.

There are more than a dozen events planned throughout the year, including a snow festival in February and an August attempt to break the world record for the number of people at a family picnic.

The year-long celebration is expected to cost about $1.6 million, with $500,000 coming from a city grant. Plain knows the cost is a bone of contention with some, but she’s hoping the events tweak peoples’ interest.

“Our hope would be that every person in St. Albert gets to at least one event,” she said.

Compared to a few months ago, awareness of the anniversary seems to be increasing, Plain said.

“More people certainly know that there are things going on,” Plain said. “Not everybody’s happy about it but that’s the way with everything in this world.”

The anniversary year is as much about education as it is about events, said Mayor Nolan Crouse.

“This is an opportunity to communicate in our city all of our history,” he said.