Three years ago, students who attended the Hay River Federal Day School between 1949 and 1971 reunited to mark the school’s 60-year anniversary.
They agreed to have another reunion every three years, but could not pull it off in 2012. In its place, the idea for a much more elaborate project was conceived, one that organizers hope will bring past and present residents of Hay River together: Homecoming 2013, to be held July 28-30 next summer.
A committee was created to organize the event, and was made up of 17 members at its last meeting. They include a chair, co-chair, treasurer and four members of a fundraising sub-committee.
The group set up a page on Facebook where residents, old and young, can contribute pictures and stories of Hay River’s history.
Committee members Linda Walton and Brenda Shannon hope to use the social networking site to find ex-Hay River residents, but also to spread the word about the event. They recognize that the road ahead is an arduous one.
“Right now we’re trying to create more committees who can take care of advertising, finances, food and other aspects,” Walton said.
The committee is also trying to reach out to various businesses and services – the hospital and fire hall, for example – to encourage them to contact people who worked there in the past.
“In spreading the word we want to make sure we include people from all walks of life, people who were born and raised here, and people who have moved away.”
The event will hopefully feature a mix of large-scale entertainment and smaller activities, Shannon said.
A beach party, street dance, lobster dinner and boat rides could be part of the festivities.
The weekend would kick off with a huge meet and greet where people could find old friends with the help of name tags, and create new ones.
They’re hoping other anniversaries that coincide with the Homecoming will attract even more people to Hay River.
The 50-year anniversary of the 1963 flood and the 40 years since the opening of the Diamond Jenness School, among others celebrations, are planned for Summer 2013.
Spreading the word is the biggest priority for the committee right now.
“We need seed money to start mail out, put up posters and advertise,” Walton said.
“Logistics are a big issue so we’re hoping to get a website going so that people have a place to register and find out about parking, hotels, camping sites and other information.”
- by Myles Dolphin