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Fireworks get go ahead for Castlegar Sunfest

The 50th anniversary of Castlegar’s Sunfest celebration will be marked with fireworks.

Although Category 2 and 3 fires, including fireworks, were banned throughout the Southeast Fire district on May 17, the BC Wildfire Service has granted an exemption.

But the BC Wildfire Service has granted the Castlegar Festival Society an exemption for Saturday.

“The concern was whether the fireworks and the weather would co-operate because it was so hot,” said festival society president Derm English.

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Their pyrotechnic team will arrive Friday evening and set up Saturday morning. Unlike previous years, they will be set off from Millennium Park.

“If you live in Brilliant, you’ll have the best seats in the house,” English said.

English has been involved in the event for 28 years while vice-president Derm Jackman (collectively they’re “Derm squared”) has 39 years under his belt.

The annual event began as KC Days (Kootenay-Columbia, or maybe Kinnaird-Castlegar) but by 1981 had been renamed Sunfest.

Jackman recalls the parades in his early days “were huge. Really big. Sixty, 70, 80 floats.” They also featured a lot of high school marching bands. Other events that have fallen by the wayside include bed races and boat races.

One other difference today is how safety has become a priority.

Last year Sunfest went ahead following a two-year break due to the pandemic, but planning was compressed into less than 10 weeks.

“It was quick but we missing nothing,” English says. “We managed to get it all in.”

Things kick off tonight with the Citizen of the Year ceremony at St. Rita’s Parish at 7 p.m., honoring Kay Jones.

On Friday, Festival in the Park runs from 3 to 8 p.m. and returning after an absence last year, the Miss Castlegar pageant will be held at Stanley Humphries Secondary at 6:30 p.m. Musical headliners The Legends of Rock perform from 6 to 8 p.m.

Saturday has a long list of events (see the poster below) including the parade at 11. Jackson says the weather wasn’t great last year, but the forecast looks promising, so they are expecting a much bigger turnout. Festival in the Park continues from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Another big draw Saturday and Sunday is the Rotary pancake breakfast.

The Sunfest committee has 14 members while a small army of volunteers spring into action on the actual weekend to make things happen. All events are free.

English and Jackman thanked “the citizens and the city” for helping to make the event happen.

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