THUNDER BAY -- Around the world, Canadians have a reputation as being a helpful, yet passive nation.
But once a year, when July 1 rolls around, they break out all things red and white and celebrate the birth of their country.
In Thunder Bay that means either a trip to Fort William Historical Park or Marina Park, where fun and festivities will take place all day long.
There’s plenty for everyone, said the city’s Meghan Shanks, who is helping to co-ordinate a wide variety of Marina Park activities.
The city’s official programming gets under way at 5 p.m., with a new twist on the annual Canada Day Parade.
“This is our second annual green parade, meaning it’s all about active transportation,” Shanks said.
“The public can come out and participate in the parade this year.”
No sign up is necessary to march along the route, which has been shortened to Marina Park Drive, said Shanks, encouraging revelers to hitch up their wagons and join the fun.
If marching in a parade isn’t your thing, there will be plenty of music and other entertainment on four stages, including the main bandstand and the waterfront plaza stage near the splash-pad.
The entertainment will be 100 per cent local, Shanks added.
Other activities being offered up this year include canoeing, kayaking and paddle boats, art workshops at the Baggage Building, face painting, inflatable play structures, games, activities and a Where’s Waldo Challenge with a tablet up for grabs to one lucky person who spots Waldo in the crowd.
There will also be an open-air photo booth and plenty of food vendors to satiate the hungriest of appetites. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Of course the highlight of the night is the fireworks show, which kicks off at 11 p.m.
Shanks said the best vantage point is the spirit garden, though Hillcrest Park is also a favourite location and will include, for the first time, its own food vendor in 2014.
If you’re not a night owl, there’s plenty of activity at Fort William Historical Park during the day, said spokesman Marty Mascarin, decked out a few days early in Canadian Olympic gear.
“We’d like to think there is no more appropriate place to celebrate Canada Day than Fort William Historical Park,” he said.
With its ties to the country’s past, Mascarin said Tuesday’s celebrations will be a “combination of the heritage and the contemporary,” and includes the grand canoe arrival at 2:20 p.m., the singing of Oh Canada at 2:30 p.m., followed by the cutting of a giant Canada Day birthday cake.
And there’s the always popular Canadian pride contest.
“Everybody gets really involved and it’s lots of fun,” said Mascarin, encouraging visitors to do their maple leafs, moose antlers, mackinaws and red-and-white garb.
“It’s always fun to see visitors big and small get into the event.”
Also taking place in the afternoon is the OLG Casino’s annual Cruiser Day car show and a range of activities, including the Sensational Hotrods on stage, from noon until 5 p.m.
Registration for the car show is from 10 a.m. until noon, and the public can vote for their favourites for a nominal fee, the money collected going to charity.
Shanks reminded the public there is no parking at the marina on Tuesday, and encouraged people to take advantage of a shuttle service being offered from both the 55-Plus Centre and Intercity Shopping Centre, free downtown parking of complimentary use of the Court Street parkade.
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