Oh, It’s Canada Day

Posted on July 1, 2011

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MISHA WEE

Americans may be gearing up for the Fourth of July festivities Monday, but Nicolle Bonar and Camille Alam in South Bend are looking forward to their own celebration today: Canada Day.

“I plan to wear red and white and see if anyone notices,” Bonar said.

Canada Day, typically held on July 1, commemorates the union of the four provinces, into one nation: Canada. It is also known as “Dominion Day” or “Canada’s birthday.” Schools, offices, government buildings and many businesses close for the statutory holiday.

The day usually begins with activities such as face painting, street performances, air shows, changing of the guards, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) musical ride. Officers, decked in proud red and white, lead decorated horses in a choreographed formation for throngs of citizens.

“Generally, you go [downtown] around lunchtime and stay for two to three hours,” Bonar said. “After three o’clock, people head to someone’s house for a barbeque. You go home around four and come back at eight. They shoot massive fireworks over the Parliament building at ten.”

However, getting downtown can be difficult due to the hundreds of people who gather together to celebrate.

“It gets really crowded,” Alam said. “You have to link arms so that no one gets lost, especially going home after the fireworks.”

Both Bonar and Alam hail from the nation’s capital: Ottawa, Ontario.

“It’s the center of the action,” Bonar said. “It’s the best place to be. You want to be in Ottawa.”

And for good reason. Each year, the capital brings in an honored guest. Last year, it was the Queen. This year, it’s Will and Kate.

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“I thought it was great that they were choosing to come for Canada Day,” Bonar said. “I think it was really nice of them that they decided to make Canada their first royal tour, and I was really proud of being from Ottawa.”

The royal couple drew in numbers even larger than when the Queen visited.

“Apparently the downtown area was really packed,” Alam said. “They were in awe. I heard someone was taking a picture of [Kate’s] hand.”

Locals snack on goodies like the beavertail, a deep-fried pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Even President Obama chowed down on the classic Canadian treat on a previous visit to the nation.

However, the real showcase of the day is the extravagant fireworks, which burst up in spectacular technicolor sparks all over the nation. Bonar and Alam normally watch the fireworks over the river separating Ontario from Quebec.

“It’s exciting,” Bonar said. “It’s lively. It’s just a day to celebrate. Forget all your worries; just put on some red and white.”

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Posted in: Entertainment, Global