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IN YEARS PAST Privateers Days’ Saturday morning parade would start at the Hank Snow Museum. But due to the increased number of holiday trailers in town that area was full. For the first time ever they would line up at the Queen’s Place Recreation Centre. That location would further attract attention to any travellers who were passing by on the highway for they had a clear view of the long line-up of parade floats that were ready for the colourful, boisterous event.
Folks lined the streets waiting for the first sights and sounds of the parade. Regardless of how long it would take, they would not move from their spot until the barricades were removed and the traffic flowed again. They stood patiently on the sidewalk, beside the historical buildings, some sitting on the grass, visiting with their neighbours. Many were catching up with old friends whom they hadn’t seen since last year’s event. They had brought folding lawn chairs, prepared to wait as long as it took and to sit in a comfortable location under the old standing trees where the sun cast dappled patterns on their faces. Under a cloudless sky, a warm summer breeze drifted off the Atlantic and up the Mersey River. Birdsong filled the air. Everyone felt good about being alive.
A roar sounded as the parade began its slow progress up Bristol Avenue and across the blue bridge. The Volunteer Fire Department led the parade blasting its horn at the spectators and they were followed by floats that carried church choirs dressed in their Sunday regalia. One of the building supply stores had a double-decker toilet with a person hanging their head out of each door. The one on the bottom looked accusingly and shook his fist at the one above. The owners of the beautiful, historical Mersey Hotel had decorated a float, even though years ago it had ceased to be a hotel and had been converted into apartments. One of the local jewelers had decorated a float that glittered with silver and gold. On it was a throne, where sat a woman dressed as the queen, displaying her crown jewels, her three Corgie dogs at her side, and with costumed characters of William, Kate and baby George behind her.
Bands of every description marched down the streets. Perkins House Museum had decorated a float, a miniature of Perkins House with smoke puffing from its chimney. There were troops of make-believe Privateers marching down the street and last, but not least, were the look-alikes of the original Captain John Howard’s Company of Kings Orange Rangers, the KOR, in their red and white uniforms, muskets and all, who would later in the day perform a re-enactment of the War of 1812. Children tailed the procession on their decorated bikes.
The parade turned onto Henry Hensey Drive, slowly progressing past the Visitors’ Information Centre, the parks filled with tents, a midway, dozens of food stalls and long lines of onlookers. It turned left onto Legion Street and left again at Main. The parade ended at the Mersey Hotel where it turned to climb the hill before disappearing along Church Street, except for the Kings Orange Rangers who marched all the way down Main Street, to end at the 1855 hunch-backed Fort Point Lighthouse. The three best decorated floats would later return to the park area displaying their red, blue and gold winners’ ribbons. Children and adults streamed down the street following the Kings Orange Rangers. The children squealed with excitement when the muskets and cannons were fired for the re-enactment of the War of 1812. Trumpets blared and cannons blasted. It was the same every year, but people loved it anyway.
A mock-up military camp had been built at the Fort Point Park, where the signal station and colonial battery had once stood, and was surrounded by an earthwork defense and palisade. Women and children in their period costumes offered foods cooked over open fires encouraging the visitors to walk amongst them. It was a working camp no different from what would have existed during the time of the privateers. Cannons left over from the War of 1812 still pointed out over the harbour approaches. It was all a reminder of the days when the town fought hard to protect themselves from the Americans. Now with the war long past, it was ironic that the town encouraged Americans to come for a visit!
Those less inclined to listen to the firing of cannons stayed in the town’s riverside parks where the festive sounds drowned out the noise from Fort Point Lighthouse. Children lined up to enjoy Razzmatazz. The pair of talented children’s entertainers was a great favourite of the kids. There were lumberjack competitions of Swede sawing and log falling. Some contenders were shimmying up poles like monkeys climbing the trees. These logging events were a fitting activity since Liverpool was once a great logging town, needing large amounts of lumber to support its ship building industry. Scarlett and Marc were not thinking much about the history of it all as they watched the huge men wield their axes. After they watched the parade and had their walk through the park they then drove down to the old railroad bridge, walked under the Trestle Trail sign and stood on the bridge taking in the sights and sounds. It was the perfect location to see the activities, yet of adequate distance away to muffle the sounds and to detach them from it all. Tiny, coloured boats drifted near the bridge where the water was still looking like petals on the water. As a teenager Scarlett used to line-up with all of her friends to jump off that bridge and into the river. She smiled at the thought for she would never be so daring as to do that now.
The town, the community, and her long lineage made Scarlett proud to be a Liverpudlian. Ever since she had been a child, she had put her heart and soul into the community and had rooted herself ever deeper into its soil, trying to play her part into shaping its future. She was nervous about the play, but standing alongside Marc and listening to the joyful festival was a good way for her to unwind and to wash away that anxiety.
END OF CHAPTER THREE
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”