Retirees reunite at annual Steelworkers picnic

An annual tradition, that leaves retirees full until next year, hits Birchbank Picnic Grounds today.

An annual tradition, that leaves retirees full until next year, hits Birchbank Picnic Grounds today.

The Local 480 Seniors Picnic is celebrating its 31st year, with a barbecue that brings together old friends and new acquaintances.

“It’s amazing how some of these people have been retired for 20-25 years and some of them haven’t seen some of their coworkers for many years and they get reunited out there,” said organizer Armindo deMedeiros, vice president of Steelworkers Local 480.

“For us, it’s a way to give back something now that they’re retired.”

What was initially started for former Teck employees is open to all local retirees and their families.

The Steelworker Organization of Active Seniors will be on site prepping for the event that kicks off as early as noon.

“It’s a real good atmosphere,” said deMedeiros. “It’s an enjoyable day, people are playing bocce, horseshoes, cards – you name it.”

The meal – roast beef and jojos – is served up after 4:30 p.m. at the picnic grounds. Dinner is $5 a head and beer and wine will be for sale, too, for $2 per drink.

“It’s nice, I’m on the other side of the table now – instead of handing it out, I’m picking it up,” laughed Brett Rakuson, a steel fabricator who retired from Teck over two years ago.

“You get to renew acquaintances, shoot the breeze, talk about the old days or the new ones to come.”

The Warfield resident was on his way from Vancouver to Calgary when he picked up some work in Trail in the ‘70s.

“My intention was to come here and just stay for six months and then move on,” he said. “I never did, I stayed here forever.”

He has fond memories of working up on the hill and to this day still gets together with old buddies.

“Before it was one big happy family, they brought you in and looked after you,” he said. “I’m not sure if that’s still the case now.”

Doug Jones, president of Local 480, will be on site taking advantage of the reunion by filming some footage for a piece on the history of the Local, which could turn into a documentary or a book.