Posted on July 2, 2015
Rocking some fine tattoos
Living in Ottawa growing up you get used the fanfare and the madness that happens every year on July 1st. The entire city is pretty much closed down as throngs of people litter the downtown core to watch the free concerts and activities and freely enjoy massive quantities of alcohol. It’s fun in its own way to be out and about with people out celebrating the day. As you get older though, the novelty of the chaos wears you down and you generally stay in and hide (especially when you have a condo a mere walk from the festivities).
When I had kids and was living west of downtown the idea of hanging out with thousands of people while trying to navigate with a stroller did not appeal to me at all. Instead, we found some fun, laid back things to do out of the downtown core but almost everything was way too expensive and didn’t justify the cost. As I spoke to other parents in the neighbourhood I discovered that they also felt the same way. We all wanted to do something to celebrate with our kids but no one wanted to spend a lot of money or drive.
So about four years ago some families in our neighbourhood came up with the idea of just hosting our own celebration. One family who lived across from our neighbourhood park offered to host a BBQ, and then later in the evening we organized a water fight across the street in the park. The BBQ was a small event with only about 10 families but hosting the waterfight meant we could invite the entire neighbouhood to join us in the park at dusk and let the kids run out their energy. Our neighbourhood community association generously opened the park shack so we would have bathrooms & access to water and we were able to create a free, low-key event for our community.
The final thing we did was collect money from people who were interested in joining us for fireworks. Although the contribution was voluntary, every year we were able to put on a small fireworks display. As news has caught on to the event, more and more people offered donate money and so every year the fireworks have been better and better. While historically I had taken on the job of fireworks another neighbour took it on this year because I had been too busy. As it turned out, it was the right decision: her father-in-law bought the fireworks and he ended up buying a huge crate that was way more than we had collected. Because of that, this year’s display was out-of-this-world!
Not bad for a wee community celebration
All told, I’d say that this year we had about 50 families join us from around the area. The kids ran around with sparklers, played with their friends, and shared snacks. What could make for better childhood memories? The parents enjoyed being able to walk from their house with an adult drink, catching up with their neighbours and knowing they didn’t have to spend a fortune for the privilege. How is that for a perfect Canada day?
In the end, the point is that with a few volunteers and a little community involvement, you can put on a wonderful event right in your own community. It doesn’t cost a lot, it won’t take a lot of time but it will give back to you a thousand-fold.