Banners showcasing 15 communities of the Codroy Valley area were led into the stage area to the sound of bagpipes and the applause of residents and tourists alike.
©Rosalyn Roy / The Gulf News
Codroy Valley’s second Come Home Year (CHY) kicked off with a parade on Monday afternoon, July 31.
Hundreds of spectators took in the floats, some of which celebrated long-standing area families.
Led by the RCMP in their finest red serge, banners naming all 15 communities comprising the Codroy Valley were marched into the fairgrounds while CHY Committee co-chair George Anderson took to the stage as emcee.
“Thank you for coming home,” said Anderson to great applause before thanking participants and introducing the committee, which has been planning the event since 2015. They scheduled a week’s worth of events ranging from sporting events to hiking, children’s events, card games, a heritage display, barbecues, a quad run and themed dances to live bands every night.
Above and beyond the games and fun, however, was the overwhelming attraction to renew old acquaintances and visit family members that make come home year celebrations so appealing to Newfoundlanders.
Originally from Searston, Yvette Kettle has spent the last 25 years in Calgary and was unable to attend Codroy Valley’s first Come Home Year held a decade ago. This time she was determined to clear her schedule to attend and brought daughter Ava home to enjoy the merriment as well.
“I worked it out with my employer and said I have to be there,” said Kettle, who found herself uncharacteristically taking to Facebook long before the celebrations started to find out who was coming and what was being planned.
“I’ve seen people I haven’t seen since high school,” she said.
Kettle enjoyed the festivities every night, and chatting with old friends about their youthful adventures was a highlight for her.
“Nobody cares what you do. Nobody cares what you’re doing or how much money you’re making, which is nice. It’s still the people you remember. We’re having family get-togethers. We’re having family reunion dinners,” she said.
But all of the reconnecting is also a touch bittersweet because, says Kettle, it provokes a longing to not leave. Even though she does try to visit regularly, Come Home Year is a different experience entirely.
“In a Come Home Year, it’s more home,” says Kettle, who had dinners with the people she used to babysit and renewed friendships with the kids she used to play with on her street.
“To me it’s a real big reconnect to where you come from.”
As for the planned celebrations, Kettle is quite impressed.
“I was extremely surprised when I looked at the schedule of events and how well organized it is. Everybody gets to participate,” said Kettle, noting there were festivities that are suited for the very young to seniors and every age in between.
“I think it’s fantastic. I think they did an amazing job.”