The Royal Canadian Legion Orillia Branch 34 will reopen on Friday for the first time since December.
President Rick Purcell says the Legion feels thankful to still be in operation after the long closure that put some legions across the country out of business.
“We are very excited. We need to open back up and to get back to normal,” he said.
Purcell says the Legion’s members are excited to get back to the branch to enjoy social gatherings.
“The Legion is a gathering place and some of the seniors don’t have anywhere else to go, so I’m sure they are looking forward to being able to get back in to see their friends,” he said.
The Legion is set to bring back their popular Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night bingo which is slated to begin on July 21.
“It’s a night out for a lot of seniors. Both the Legion and the bingo people are calling us because they are excited to get back,” Purcell said.
To increase demand and interest the Legion will be moving their monthly barbecue to a bi-weekly format.
“The barbecues are usually sell-outs. People love coming to support the Legion but also enjoy a barbecued steak, some salad, and a dessert,” Purcell said.
While the Legion hosts events over the next several weeks to make up for the rough seven months of being closed, Purcell says members of the executive will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they are still in good shape.
“At the beginning of the pandemic we had a bit of money in the bank, and we’ve done well with government subsidies,“ he explained.
“We kept the manager and maintenance person on part-time, and we got wage subsidy to help pay for that. We also had rent subsidy which started in April or May for the bingo hall, so that’s really helped us keep a good cash flow.”
Purcell says many community members and organizations are also thankful to see the Legion in a healthy state.
“Not only do we support our veterans, but we are also a very strong community service organization. We support anything that goes on in the city like Canada Day, the Santa Claus Parade, sidewalk sales, and we support pretty well every youth sports program that asks us to,” he explained.
Purcell invites all community members to come to the Legion on Friday to show their support.
“Anybody can come into the Legion now. We aren’t restricted to members only; we want anybody to be able to come in,” he said.
“If people come by on Friday, have a few drinks (which are cheaper than most bars in town), and sit on the patio, that would really help the Legion," he said.