It’s fun for all ages at North Delta Family Day. (Corporation of Delta photo)

It’s fun for all ages at North Delta Family Day. (Corporation of Delta photo)

51 years of North Delta Family Day

The beloved annual tradition began as a parade to celebrate Canada’s centennial

As the old saying goes, everybody loves a parade.

Some are legendary — Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the Rose Bowl Parade, Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s stunning Carnival. Vancouver resurrected the popular Santa Claus parade a decade ago. And the PNE staged a fair-opening parade for 85 years before ending the practice in 1995.

But it’s the small town and community parades that so often resonate with kids of every age, parents and seniors. A parade is fun to watch, be it from a blanket spread out on the curb, or a lawn chair set up on the sidewalk.

Residents of North Delta have been enjoying their little homespun cavalcade of marching bands, floats, old cars, beaming politicians and community groups since 1967. That’s the same year that the North Delta Lions Club, which took over organization of the parade and Family Day in 1970 from the Delta Ratepayers Association, was chartered.

So, it’s happy 50th to the Lions Club and, on Sunday, year No. 51 for the parade, which has had various different starting and ending points, but has always travelled along 112th and through what’s often called the “social heart” of North Delta.

The parade was initially launched as a celebration marking Canada’s centennial. Over the years it has featured a wide array of pipe bands, marching bands and silly bands and served as terrific advertising for local sports groups and community associations as they march along the parade route.

The parade finished for years at Annieville Lions Park, where the Lions Club was the driving force in developing the waterpark and picnic shelter. The club and the Corporation of Delta, with the financial assistance of Otter Co-Op, are also set to open on Saturday a new natural playground and zip line at the park.

Since 2008, the parade has finished at the larger North Delta Community Park, where the festival includes plenty of entertainment for adults and kids, including stage shows, bouncy castles and face-painting.

“It was smaller, a little cozier, a little friendlier (at Annieville),” said Marv Boyter, who has been with the Lions for 50 years. “We moved to the current park at the request of the parks board.”

It was no longer feasible to close both 84th and Nordel Way to accommodate the parade.

“That was part of it, but they also wanted to promote (North Delta Community Park),” said Boyter.

Food options at the festival include hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and ice cream. And the Lions Club also sponsors a mouth-watering barbecue featuring full salmon and chicken dinners.

Lions Club members work the grills, the fryers and the barbecues and are actively involved in the planning and organizing of all the Family Day events. They are also appreciative of the support and help from the staff of the Corporation of Delta, local businesses, community volunteers and the local police and fire departments.