For the second year in a row, Orillia’s Canada Day committee has pulled the plug on July 1 celebrations at Couchiching Beach Park.
“This isn’t a decision that is made light-heartedly,” said Canada Day committee board of directors executive member Mike McLaughlin.
With the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, the committee simply ran out of time - again - to plan for the annual bash.
“Orillia is currently in a state of emergency, and to put an event together we would have to get things ready to go by the end of this month,” McLaughlin told OrilliaMatters.
“When the Mariposa Folk Festival cancelled, which is usually the weekend after our event, we knew we wouldn’t be able to put on the event that Orillia is used to," he said.
McLaughlin says the committee is disappointed by being sidelined for the second year in a row. After taking a year off they had been hoping to be able to deliver the Canada Day festivities this year for local families.
“Our motto is all-day fun for everyone. The event is family-centric, and we do things at the park for families. So, we obviously want to do the event, and everyone has fatigue from this pandemic, but we also want everyone to be healthy,” he said.
McLaughlin is optimistic that with the vaccine rollout, a patriotic celebration of some sort could happen later this year.
“We still want to put together a celebration for what we missed out on last year, so as a committee we are always talking and seeing if there is something else that we could do,” he said.
“We would love to have the event, we miss having the event, just right now it’s not possible.”
While the usual July 1. celebrations have been cancelled, McLaughlin says the committee would try to pull something together last minute for Canada Day if there was a dramatic positive shift in the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would try to pull something together for sure, but to be realistic we don’t think that will happen and obviously we know for a fact that it wouldn’t be done at the scale of what we normally do,” he said.
McLaughlin says the committee has also had discussions about at least delivering the fireworks to locals in a safe way.
“We’ve talked about it for sure, but financially we haven’t fundraised in two years, so we would have to figure that out, and also figure out how to do it while keeping people safely distanced,” he said.
The committee will include links on their website for those who would like to join virtual celebrations on Canada Day that will be hosted by the provincial and federal governments. The committee is also looking for volunteers to help them have a more interactive online presence.
“We are looking for committee members with a little experience to help us with our Facebook and social media,” McLaughlin said.
“We are a small group of volunteers who plan, fundraise, and make the day happen. So, we need some more people to step up and help give us a hand.”
For those interested in volunteering with the Orillia Canada Day committee you can email McLaughlin at email@example.com.