Smithers wrapped up homecoming week in style on Saturday afternoon, with a parade down Main Street and closing ceremonies complete with music, BBQ and a few speeches by the people who made the celebration possible.
It was the final event of a week-long cornucopia that showcased Smithers’ culture and heritage from the past 100 years.
The parade featured horse-drawn carriages, kids on bikes and a collection of old cars from every era over the past century. It began on Main Street and finished at Central Park, right before the closing ceremonies, where a few hundred Smithereens came out for one last homecoming week party.
Centennial Committee member David McKenzie opened the ceremonies with a special presentation, honouring all of the hard work that committee chair Gladys Atrill has put in over the past two-plus years.
“She is the greatest person in the world,” McKenzie said, of Atrill.
He then brought Alfred Smithers’ great granddaughter Claire Ackroyd up to the stage to thank her for, “being such a great ambassador,” over the past week.
“Thank you so much for welcoming me to your town,” Ackroyd said. “Thank you to everyone who taught me about your community, your land, your farming, to everyone who pulled me aside and told me a story.”
Atrill received a standing ovation as she came to the stage to thank everyone for all their hard work, and for their timely response to a would-be catastrophe.
Last Wednesday morning, organizers were thrown for a loop when the Main Street fire rendered the Bovill Square stage unusable. But what could have been a disaster turned into an opportunity for Smithereens to pull up their boot straps and make the best of a bad situation.
“It was amazing to see everyone pitch in and help out,” Atrill said, of the move to Central Park. “Not one person we asked said no to coming and helping out.”
The town’s response to the fire became a theme of the closing ceremonies.
“I was so cool to see the way your community responded to the fire,” Ackroyd said. “It was something else, to watch.”
Mayor Taylor Bachrach spoke and musicians Art Henkel and Mark Perry finished off the ceremonies with their Smithers themed songs, Smithereens and Our Town and with that, the curtain closed on the homecoming week celebrations.
“I think things went really well,” Atrill said, while taking a well-earned rest on Sunday morning. “It was a fantastic week. All of the work that the centennial committee put in over the last two years really made it worthwhile. It was everything we imagined.”
And, as for a personal highlight for Atrill, there were two.
“Early on in the week, on Saturday night just being downtown and seeing how many people came out, smiling, dancing, the stage was working. And feeling that same way on Wednesday night when we were set up at Central Park and I realized how hard everyone had worked to make this a reality.”
Though homecoming week is over, there are still a few months left in Smithers’ centennial year.
“Unbelievably, right after the ceremonies were finished, the committee was talking about what they have in mind for the rest of the year,” Atrill said. “So I think we will take a bit of time, regroup and figure out what’s coming.”