The St. Anthony 2019 Come Home Year brought back lots of old faces and was a festive celebration for all ages.
Events kicked off with opening ceremonies on Saturday, July 20, and concluded Friday, July 26, with a show from Greenriver Rival – a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band.
The event offered lots of opportunity for music and dancing.
There were concerts throughout the week, not just from Greenriver Revival, but from local acts, such as the Mitchell Hunt Band.
Former resident Cory Colbourne, who returned for the Come Home Year, also performed for a Valentine’s-themed dance with his band The Other Krow.
While the weather was poor, with fog, rain and cooler temperatures, the spirit of the event was not dampened.
There were fun outdoor activities, for young and old, including softball and rowboating. At the Royal Canadian Legion, the hub of the event, they had a tent set up where musical performances, opening and closing ceremonies, and a craft fair were held.
Dale Richards, who co-chaired the Come Home Year committee with Marilyn Walker, believes Facebook promotion was a boon to the event.
Richards shared live videos of the event on the St. Anthony Come Home Year 2019 page throughout the week. In the process, he amassed thousands of viewers. He believes the videos generated interest across the province as more people registered for the event as the week went on. At one point, in the span of two days, he says about 75 people registered from within the province.
As of Wednesday, July 24, Richards couldn’t provide a final number of registrations because people were still arriving. But he estimated, at the time, there’d be about 750 official registrations.
St. Anthony is a familiar sight for some of the returnees this Come Home Year.
Calvin and Ellen Saunders live in Labrador City, but they still return home to St. Anthony practically every year.
The Saunders’ left St. Anthony for Labrador City in 1975 when Calvin went to work with the Iron Ore Company of Canada. They ended up settling down there in the long run. Their children grew up there, and now have families of their own and work in the mining industry themselves.
But Calvin and Ellen still return home frequently to see family, including Ellen’s 90-year-old mother.
Calvin said it was good to see lots of old faces.
“We saw more in 2012 (Come Home Year),” he told The Northern Pen. “But we’ve seen quite a few. Every time you see someone you stop and chat for a little. We’ve gone around to a few houses, but I guess Tim’s is the hot spot where you see lots of people.”
A new experience
For some, Come Home Year was an opportunity to actually visit St. Anthony and meet relatives for the very first time.
That was the case for 24-year-old Lauren Howarth.
Howarth, who has lived her entire life in Manchester, England, has familial ties to St. Anthony – the hometown of her father, Baine Richards.
Unfortunately, while he frequently sent letters from St. Anthony, the opportunity never came to meet her father and he was killed in a car crash in 2011.
Meeting his family was something she had always dreamed about, and St. Anthony became one of her key stops on her trip to Canada this summer.
But the situation felt a bit unusual to Howarth and she called the experience of being in St. Anthony with her father’s family “surreal.”
“(It’s) scary, I always imagined I’d meet them one day but not under these circumstances,” she told The Northern Pen. “They all know me, but I don’t know any of them.”
Howarth visited St. Anthony for a week, arriving on Monday, July 22 and departing the following Monday.
Her trip also includes stops in Deer Lake and St. John’s, with plans to head to Toronto.
The Come Home Year was not only an opportunity to become reacquainted with old faces or to meet family for the first time.
Jennifer Hill, who lives in Mississauga, Ont., came home to St. Anthony for Come Home Year with her husband Steve Bungay and their four-year-old daughter, Journey Bungay. Hill wanted to make the most of the experience for her daughter.
“We wanted our daughter to make friends with our friends and their children,” she told The Northern Pen. “We wanted her to create some memories here that she’d remember.”
So, on Thursday afternoon, July 25, when the Come Home Year got its first sunny day, Journey, partnered with two local girls, Kera and Kailey Tucker, to set up a lemonade stand at Fishing Point.
While Journey provided the lemonade, Kailey and Kera provided the iceberg ice and sold paintings and painted rocks along with other crafts.
The partnership was quite the success.
Fishing Point was a hot spot on Thursday afternoon and, with efficient customer service, passersby frequently stopped over for a nice cool glass of lemonade.
In just two hours, the girls raised over $230.
They will be donating all of the proceeds to the St. Anthony and Area Boys and Girls Club, who will use it to purchase a barbecue. Boys and Girls Club executive director Colleen Loder said they then intend to sell tickets on the barbecue to raise money for the club's programming.
"That's going to keep on giving," she told The Northern Pen.
The club had plans to fundraise for the barbecue but, then, all of a sudden, the money simply turned up at their doorstep – in the hands of these three young girls.
Loder was amazed at what they had done for the club.
"For those little kids to take the initiative to want to give back to the community like that is remarkable," she said. "It speaks volumes to their commitment to the Boys and Girls Club. I'm really overwhelmed by it.
"It was unbelievable."