A big celebration for Canada Day 2014 in Charlottetown was promised, and if you ask the thousands who took in the many festivities and events Tuesday, they would say the organizers certainly delivered.
The whole city was abuzz with activity throughout the day as people decked out in their most festive red and white attire traveled to and from the numerous events taking place across the city.
The day ended with a two-part fireworks display from two barges moored in Charlottetown Harbour. The display's were the same, with many low firework elements, a handful of towering aerials and some heart-shapes punctuating the approximately 15 minute show.
A few comments from the throngs of people exiting through Charlottetown afterwards suggested that the display was not as spectacular as had been anticipated but oohs, aahs and shrieks of delight were event all through the crowds during the actual show.
Kim and Greg Barnes of Kitchener, Ontario were looking especially festive with Canada hats, Canada tattoos and flags all over.
They travel to a different city in Canada every year for Canada Day and decided this year to come to P.E.I. when they heard about the 2014 celebrations in Charlottetown.
“A couple of years back we did Newfoundland because they celebrate first. P.E.I. has got the Charlottetown Conference, we thought ‘Why not? They really did it first,’” Greg said.
“When we started researching and saw what there was to offer, well here we are,” Kim added.
Their colourful Canadian attire got them lots of attention downtown, especially with a group of American cruise ship passengers.
Vanessa Myles and Chantal Lilly-Lace from Manitoba were also getting attention for their outfits Tuesday as they strolled through the downtown in vintage gowns. Lilly-Lace, who was wearing a Victorian-style hoopskirt, said they came to P.E.I. because they were excited at the many historical events being offered throughout the province.
They took in one of the daily vignettes of the Fathers of Confederation at Province House Tuesday.
“The two of us, we love history… we could sit on a beach at Lake Manitoba for a fraction of the cost, but that’s no fun, we’d rather come here,” Myles said.
“This place is like paradise, with the beaches and all the history here.”
Prince Edward Island is marking 2014 as a major milestone in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, where the Fathers of Confederation met and agreed on the idea of building a nation.
With the province pouring almost $30-million into celebrating this anniversary, there were twice as many events to mark Canada’s birthday in Charlottetown this year.
The morning began with 24 people from eight different countries getting sworn in as Canadians on the waterfront.
Then the P.E.I. 2014 Celebration Zone was officially opened to the public. This 70-day cultural festival is a central part of the 2014 celebrations, with free events, activities and concerts taking place every day throughout the summer.
Later in the afternoon, a whole lineup of free concerts drew thousands of Islanders and visitors to the Charlottetown event grounds.
David Myles, Roch Voisine, George Canyon, Tegan and Sara, Classified and the Barenaked Ladies each performed a set, bringing an eclectic mix of people to the free event.
Some came as fans, wanting to hear their favourite artist. But most were there to take in some fun in celebration of Canada Day.
People were in a festive mood, in spite of the scorching sun and humidity with temperatures that reached into the mid-thirties.
Jessica Carmichael was feeling especially festive, as she was celebrating her 14th birthday.
“It feels pretty special because earlier people were singing happy birthday, and it felt like they were singing it to me.”
Julie Gagnon brought her two teenaged daughters to the concert grounds Tuesday to celebrate the national holiday.
Gagnon served as a medic in the Canadian military reserve for 13 years, so she said she feels especially patriotic on Canada Day.
“I love my country, it’s a very great place to live, so I think to celebrate every July 1st, it’s a time to gather and enjoy the spirit of being Canadian.”