A military flyover by the popular Canadian Forces Snowbirds generated plenty of excitement at the Freedom of the Town parade and ceremony held in Qualicum Beach on Saturday (May 7).
It was one of the highlights of the event, a historic ceremony organized by the Qualicum Beach Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76.
Freedom of the Town is an honour bestowed on a military unit, in this case the 19 Mission Support Squadron from 19 Wing Comox, by the town council, allowing them the privilege to march into town with drums beating, banners flying and bayonets fixed.
The ceremony started at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, where 19 MSS Lieutenant-Colonel Christina Marentette requested from council permission to parade through the town. Mayor Brian Wiese granted the request.
The parade was led by the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, which provided the music as they marched to town hall where they were greeted by residents, visitors, veterans and government officials. A town resolution was read by Town Crier Len and Marie Mustard. A plaque of the resolution with the key on top was presented to Marentette.
Among the guests was Qualicum First Nation Chief Michael Recalma, who presented Marentette with a Qualicum First Nation blanket.
The military unit marched on to the Qualicum Beach Legion where they were welcomed by members and treated to some refreshments.
Ben Villenueve, Legion Branch 76 president, was happy with how the affair went.
“We have been planning this for just over three years and today was the day,” said Villeneuve. “And it turned out to be an outstanding day. Everybody was telling me it’s going to rain but I said it doesn’t rain on my parade and it didn’t. The 19 Mission Support Squadron looked fabulous in their dress uniforms and the band that was leading them was just awesome. They played great music. And everything just went smoothly.”
Villenueve was also very impressed with the two flyovers.
“The Snowbirds were outstanding,” he said. “We got two passes with smoke. We also had the Cormorant helicopter.”