Taking advantage of a sunny sky and warm Gulf breezes, some 300 spud-Islanders gathered on March 10 at Fort DeSoto Park in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the 18th annual P.E.I. Day picnic.
On hand to welcome them were members of a reception team organized by Nancy Bouchard and Elva (Myers) Lech, assisted by Walter and Marlene MacDonald, Don and Margaret Coles, Marilyn Campbell, John Lech and Jim and Clara Fisher.
Master of ceremonies J.P. Gaudet kept things lively as he directed the day's activities. The official opening featured a welcome from committee chairman Alex Campbell and the singing of “The Island Hymn”. Campbell thanked the Canadian Snowbird Association and Medipac for sponsoring the event and read greetings from Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
Addressing the audience, Canadian Snowbird Association vice-president Ron Steeves reviewed the work of the CSA, including currency exchange, travel insurance and promotion of legislative initiatives. Steeves also presented Gaudet with the CSA award for outstanding service to Canadian snowbirds, in recognition of his many years serving as master of ceremonies of the P.E.I. Day event.
Prizes were given to the following: youngest in attendance - three-year-old Preah Archibald, Summerside; recently married - John and Elva Lech, Blooming Point; oldest, - D. Alex MacDonald of Summerside; and longest married - Louie and June Watts of Charlottetown. The 50/50 draw was organized by Art Bouchard with the grand prize of $300 going to Kim Dolan of Charlottetown. A TV set donated by CSA went home to Stratford with Bert Weil.
P.E.I. Day has been blessed with a host of Island musicians whose performances have offered excitement and family-friendly entertainment to the day's activities. Organizing this band of troubadours is Mayfield native Brian Blacquiere, no stranger to the fiddle, banjo and guitar. His back-up group includes fiddler Winston McIntyre, drummer Brian Knox and Heartz Godkin, bass. Among the solo performers were Jim and Laura Farrell, Dino Dunsford, John Stone, Terry Dunsford, Gavin McKenna, Len Reteff and Jim Platts. Line dancing erupted led by Heather Dunsford, Gail MacDonald and Dianne McIsaac. Duane McBeth added to the fray with a barefoot bounce.
The day ended with thanks going out to all the volunteers who support this annual Florida picnic. Next year's picnic will be held on March 8 at Fort DeSoto Park.