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Something new for something old

Fruitvale set to unveil new parade float marking 100th anniversary of Beaver Valley May Days
From the left; Len Toupin

The Beaver Valley May Days may be 100 years old this year but a group of community volunteers are about to unveil something new for the century-old celebration.

This year dedicated volunteers have set out to build a new float to celebrate the centennial of the annual event.

The float stripped of all last year’s May Days memorabilia is undergoing a complete overhaul and redesign.

Bert Kniss, long time Fruitvale councillor, along with volunteers, Sara Dewell, Sky Shin, Richard Hildago, a Philippines native who has lived in Fruitvale for only two months, and, of course, Len Toupin have set out to redesign the float to represent 100 years of May Days.

“The Village of Fruitvale does have a small budget for the float,” said Kniss.

“Donations are in the form of volunteering hours from community members. The volunteers are the biggest contributors.”

Kniss’s vision for the float is to show how life was a century ago, in both a fun and historical way.

“I hope the float will represent a fun community celebrating 100 years of May Days,” he explained.

Some of the ideas that Kniss revealed include, leading a dairy cow behind it, a clothesline with knickers and old clothes pinned to it, to the possibility of having the someone in an old washtub.

His enthusiasm for this community project shows in his smile as he talks about it.

Still he is careful not to reveal too much and ruin the surprise. Spectators are going to have to wait to see the float in all its glory.

“It will be different from any float we’ve had,” claimed Kniss.

With the volunteers dedication and Kniss’s display background and enthusiasm, the float, when revealed to the public in this year’s May Days parade, will certainly please onlookers.

The first celebration of this event in 1911 was held on May 1. Later the community began to celebrate it on the May long weekend, which coincides with Queen Victoria’s birthday.

In those days there were no parks, and the wagon trails were deep with mud so the events took place in the old railroad yard of the Great Northern Railway.

Even then, it depended on community volunteers, organizations, and community minded businesses.

Today that same tradition and dependency on these volunteers, remains as true as it was when it was first conceived.

In the 1960’s May Days was discontinued, but folks in the community missed this joyful event.

By 1972, the Beaver Valley Recreation Commission and the newly formed Lions Club as well as the Women’s Institute and the Rotary Club held a town meeting to discuss the possibility of a rebirth for this special occasion.

Born from that meeting was the new May Days Committee.

Since then the celebration has got bigger and better, thanks to all those who volunteer.

Fireworks will light up the sky and shatter the evening calm on May 27 and the parade starts its journey along the parade route at noon on Saturday.

Among the annual staple of May Days are the parade and the famous beef on a bun, fireworks, street dance, live music, slo-pitch tournament, bingo and of course the beer gardens.

There are rides for the kiddies, raffles, and car enthusiasts will enjoy the car show.

It is a time when community spirit, friendship, and rekindled friendships come together.

This year, there is no exception to that 100-year tradition.