Every year, hundreds of people are involved with providing exciting entertainment, delicious food, and great music for our Canada Day celebration at Henderson Lake.
For at least 40 years now, the event has taken place there with the fireworks being one of the biggest highlights of the night. In the past, Canada Day (formerly known as Dominion Day) was about sporting events but has now become about people coming together to enjoy the festivities.
Preparation for designing the amazing fireworks starts months in advance for Edmonton-based company Sky Art Fireworks. Out of 22 years as a company, they have been serving Lethbridge for 18 of those years, with Lethbridge being their biggest show every year.
Owner and founder Tim Burgess, along with his wife Deb, and her brother Bill are three of the seven people on the crew. It takes hours to plan everything for the show, 30 hours for the display of fireworks, and 50 hours in total for the entire setup.
The time and effort it takes is all worth it for Tim and his crew because of the crowd's reaction.
"Lethbridge is great! My favourite part is the crowd cheering. There are certain things we do that the crowd cheer for like our aquatic shells, that go out in the water and blow up in the water," Tim says. He also mentions that for aerial fireworks, there are up to 1,500 chemicals that go into the different colours and effects.
To host the entire Canada Day event at Henderson Lake with vendors, entertainment, and fireworks, the City receives funding of approximately $75,000. They also get a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage of around $3,500 each year.
To make operations run smoothly and ensure all safety requirements are met, a special event permit is issued from the Recreation & Culture Department from the City, along with a permit from Fire Prevention, Sky Art Fireworks, and the Canada Day Committee.
Canada Day is organized by Lethbridge's Canada Day Committee that has been running for over 30 years. It was first started by a group of volunteers who generously gave their time back to the community for the love of their country.
They gave the opportunity to have a safe, fun space to celebrate Canada Day. After 2000, the City's Recreation & Culture Department took over planning to secure more safety regulations and further crowd control.
One of the previous committee volunteers was Kimberly Lyall, who served on the committee for more than a decade. During Kimberly’s time with them, the Lethbridge Canada Day activities expanded to all parts of the city and focused on providing something for everyone.
"We really wanted to make sure it was something for families and people of all ages. It should be something that every Canadian feels comfortable celebrating and wants to celebrate."
A favourite memory of Kimberly's was having Citizenship Oath ceremonies on Canada Day in Galt Gardens where new citizens swear the oath of citizenship and become Canadian citizens. She felt that it was so special seeing newcomers with their families choose to become Canadian citizens on Canada Day, and getting their flag to display proudly.
Kimberly thinks that we all have the ability to make a difference, to contribute, and that we all need a sense of belonging. That being part of something bigger, celebrating in the same way and experiencing those same feelings is what fireworks symbolizes for the community.
Whether you're new to Canada or have lived here your whole life, you can always count on this country to unite and celebrate all of its diversity which really makes us True North strong and free.