The annual Canada Day fireworks celebration at Community Park in Parksville may have made history last Friday.
No, not for the largest crowd or most fireworks — but for fewest arrests.
“From a policing perspective, it was fantastic,” said Cpl. Jesse Foreman, NCO in charge of Community Policing with Oceanside RCMP. “There was a number of people who had their alcohol poured out, but I don’t believe there was even an arrest that evening, which is a first.
“Everyone was very well behaved.”
In another twist, event organizers varied the entertainment schedule for the evening in an effort to mitigate the potential pitfalls of amassing upwards of 25,000 spectators in one spot.
The headlining music act, veteran rocker Jerry Doucette and his band, played one set prior to the fireworks show at dusk, then stuck around to play again after the pyrotechnics. Entertainment director Bill McKinney had said it was hoped the split show would lead to spectators departing the park in waves, rather than all together in one crowd.
Foreman, who has staffed the Corfield Road crosswalk from the park for the last three years, said there were still a lot of people streaming out of the park at the end of the evening, but applauded the organizers’ efforts.
“They did definitely come in waves,” Foreman said. “Anything at all that helps keep people from leaving all at once is going to be helpful.” And for one year, at least, Canada’s birthday was honoured by one big, happy family. “That’s sort of the way everyone intended it to be,” said Foreman.