As rain dribbled down from a misty sky at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 20 in Alert Bay, it looked to be the start of a classically-quiet Cormorant Island morning.
But just a half hour later Fir Street was impassable, with mounties marching, tiny zombies haphazardly walking, Salmon Prince and Princesses riding in a truck with salmon decals, and rowdy soccer teams all part of the opening parade for the 57th annual June Sports weekend.
The Parade kicked off with four mounties and Chief Debra Hanuse marching behind a RCMP vehicle, the pavement beneath their feet wet from the rain. Many locals and visitors were dressed for the TV Shows theme of the parade.
Pick-up truck after pick-up truck formed a long line with different soccer teams and groups in the back.
The Alert Bay Thunderettes drowned out many of the other teams as they yelled ‘Thunder all the way’ over the din of competing horns and cheers.
The Little Shooters all wore tie dye shirts and headbands and rode through the parade to the sounds of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”
The parade turned up Park Street onto the reserve, and many residents stood at their doors and on their lawns taking in the temporarily swelling of their town’s population.
The energy at this community unifying event was palpable. Alert Bay Thunderette Erica Hamilton said that she was looking forward to “having a wicked time with everyone and enjoying June Sports.”
The parade ended at the soccer field beside the Big House, and everyone gathered to hear a welcome from Chief Hanuse and the introduction of the new Salmon Prince and Princess from the previous night’s pageant.
Mayor Michael Berry welcomed locals and visitors to the island, and a blessing by Reverend Lincoln McKoen included a moment of silence for former competitors who had passed away in the last year.
After the parade wrapped up, the event was officially begun. Elder Emma Alfred, who rode in a Golden Girls themed pick-up truck with other elders, shared that she loves June Sports “because it brings us together.”