In-person Canada Day celebrations return to the Ottawa Valley
Three years on from the last in-person Canada Day celebrations in Pembroke, Waterfront Park in Pembroke was packed for Canada's 155th birthday.
"Oh, I'm really pleased," said Mayor Mike LeMay. "So after two years of being shut down to see so many people here...I think we'll have a great afternoon."
This will be LeMay's last Canada Day as mayor of Pembroke, as it has been announced he will not run in this fall's municipal election. He's happy he'll get to spend his final Canada Day in the job with his constituents.
"What a great Canada Day to have," LeMay told CTV News. "That we're almost back to normal, not quite, but being able to really celebrate and enjoy the day. And seeing everybody smile and knowing that they're going to have a great time makes my day and also makes my term as mayor so I'm quite happy."
Local vendors and food options were available at the Pembroke Marina, along with performers, live music, Indigenous educational opportunities, a petting zoo, and inflatable attractions for kids.
Headlining the day's festivities was Canadian country music artist Andrew Hyatt.
"It's always great to come to any town and having them invite us out to play music, and this is going to be a cool one," Hyatt said, who was performing at the Marina Amphitheatre. "It's nice to sometimes be in a little bit more of an intimate setting to be able to talk about the songs and tell stories."
Hyatt says he grew up on Canada Day celebrations just like Pembroke's.
"I grew up in Sudbury, so we'd go down to Bell Park and check out bands and just enjoy time with our families," said the country music artist. "So hopefully people are doing the same today."
With families back filling the park and seeing old friends, it was a special first of July that felt like old times.
"Just spending time with family today," said Paul Jurgens, who attended Waterfront Park with his two kids and parents. "We haven't been together quite a bit with the pandemic. So just having good, quality family time."
"It's nice to get out and see everybody and be around a bunch of people," said Brittany Wieland, sharing ice cream with her family, "so it's been good."
The return of Canada Day to Pembroke and the valley is being capped with a fireworks display at 10:00 p.m. at Riverside Park.