PORT AUX BASQUES – Come Home Year 2022 saw thousands of people flocking home to Newfoundland and Labrador, and many communities on the Southwest Coast had their own celebrations to commemorate the event. Most towns offered days of fun and festivities, including Port aux Basques, Isle aux Morts, Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou and Burnt Islands.
In Port aux Basques, the community reunions were held on Wednesday, Aug. 3. Army Hill, Brook Hill and East End Channel held their own day of celebrations, offering a variety of activities for folks to reunite with those they have not seen in years.
East End Channel hosted their street party on Lillington Avenue, and it was attended by a myriad of people, young and old, who arrived to enjoy all the festivities they had to offer. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., fun time for the kids took place. Offerings included games such as ring toss, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, hotdogs and snacks with lots of prizes for the kids to take home.
From 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., attendees were serenaded by the musical talents of Gorden Cormier. Fireworks followed at 10:00 p.m.
After that Larissa Bishop took to the stage and surprised the crowd with a solid ukulele and vocal performance, so it seems East End Channel has yet another musical talent to add to its roster.
The event was such a success that attendees have flooded the group's Facebook page with high praise and thanks to the organizers. Pulling off the street party was not an easy task, and in fact there was some doubt as to whether or not there would even be a Channel reunion at one point.
The committee for the East End Channel event, Rosalyn Roy, Rene Roy, Evelyn Lilly, Marilyn Lillington Underhill, Tanya English, and Michael Oliver, worked tirelessly since June to ensure everything was in place and on time for everyone to enjoy.
For the last Come Home Year reunion in 2015, the street party was a last minute success.
“We set it up in less than a week last time. It was three or four days, and we just threw the party together and we had several hundred people on the street, including tourists. But this time, we’ve been at it for weeks now," said Rosalyn.
The planning for the 2022 reunion didn’t come without some hiccups.
Initially the town's Come Home Year committee declined to provide port-a-potties to the community reunions, citing cost. About a week or two before the reunions, the town reversed its decision and agreed to supply the port-a-potties to each community reunion.
“From our end, we were happy to have it and are glad they changed their minds,” said René. “It saved us about $400 for our street party, by the Town donating this. That’s what we estimated for the cost and why we started fundraising in the first place. Last time we had Come Home Year, they donated, and that’s why we didn’t have that expense.”
With the port-a-potty off the list of expenses, the funds were used to pay for Gordon Cormier's musical performance, as well as food, toys, games and other expenses. Corporate sponsors made up the difference.
René also said that the Town agreed to block off the end of the road, and erected barricades up to stop vehicles from going in and out, and the RCMP made regular stops to ensure proper security. The town also donated hot dogs and buns to each of the community reunions.
Because the committee wanted to offer a wider variety of food and activities, they also cooked chili, moose soup and grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on demand. Dessert was courtesy of T's Treats, which delivered a huge cake.
Games played both children and adults included tug of war, ring toss, pippi, hula hoops, jai alai, and softball.
René, who is a volunteer firefighter (currently on medical hiatus) also spoke with the fire department to get tips on how to successfully set off the $217 in fireworks, without them toppling over after they were lit.
“He (Chief Jerry Musseau) put it together. He actually did it himself. He used duct tape, deck screws and a few long boards I had out back in the shed, so that was really great of him.”
The committee members are grateful to see the overwhelmingly positive response to their weeks of hard work.
"Some people said it was the best yet," said Evelyn Lilly.
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News