In the dark about big 1967 celebration
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Jul 04, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

In the dark about big 1967 celebration

St. Marys Journal Argus

St. Marys has just celebrated Canada Day 2013. Local residents will be looking for photographs in the Journal Argus showing flags, cake, balloons or red and white costumes. However, it is disappointing to search the archives for photographs from the centennial celebration, July 1, 1967. Yes, there was a wonderful party and a great crowd attended. But the local centennial committee arranged it in a way that made good photographic records almost impossible.

It was held outside at midnight!

St. Marys and Blanshard Township celebrated 1967 in partnership. A joint committee was chaired by David C. White, a life-long resident with a wealth of experience in both municipalities. Another key committee member was Andy Hoe, leader of the remarkable St. Marys Marching Band. A high school reunion took place on Friday, June 30, and people from this event were encouraged to meet and mingle downtown that evening. It was Hoe’s idea to have the band lead a parade of floats, cars and pedestrians to Water Street South where two important ceremonies were planned for midnight: the unveiling of a plaque in the new Centennial Park recognizing the St. Marys-Blanshard partnership; and the announcement of a new name for the nearby ball park.

The newspaper gave an enthusiastic report of the occasion and published photographs but with apologies for their quality. The plaque picture is dark but Blanshard Township resident Charles Atkinson can be seen unveiling the cairn that still holds the plaque today. In a contest to name the ball park, the winning entry was “Teddy’s Field” after neighbour and long-time volunteer, Ted Blackman. Dressed in a white shirt, he is reasonably visible in a photograph as he receives this honour. But Milt Dunnell, who came to town specifically to make the announcement, is only a dark shadow to the side.

There were no published photographs of the band that evening but it played a major role in every event throughout centennial year, always performing to a high standard. Band members had new uniforms — red jackets and white shakos with red plumes. This week’s photograph shows a band concert in late May 1967 on Wellington Street in front of the post office. Andy Hoe, conducting in the foreground, has recently donated his collection of band memorabilia to the St. Marys Museum.

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