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Looking Back at Events from the Summer of 2016

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Welcome friends, grab yourself a ‘Cup of Joe’, pull up a chair and let’s chat for a while about the summer of 2016 that is quickly passing us by.

But what a time the summer of 2016 it has been. I want to review some highlights from events I attended in the City of Windsor during this very hot and dry summer.

It seems like only yesterday that I boarded the Transit Windsor Tunnel bus and headed over to Comerica Park for the April 8th Tiger’s opener against the New York Yankees which our hometown Tigers won by a score of 4 to 0. And today, 139 games later, the Tigers find themselves battling for a wildcard playoff position with 23 games left in the regular season schedule.

The following week I joined hundreds of Windsor-Essex residents in the 4th Run for Rocky 5K Walk/Run along our riverfront. ‘Rocky’ was an amazing young man from our community who passed away in 2012 at the age of 23, after attempting to take his own life. 

Rocky was a shining star, an achiever and proud to be gay. He had everything in life to live for, including a high profile new job and a family he adored and who supported him endlessly with great pride. It is now apparent that Rocky suffered from depression. We understand that if this scenario is possible in our family it is a risk for any family with an LGBTQ youth. Rocky made a difference in life and as a family we are determined his message continues to be delivered and makes a difference in others’ lives.” – Rocky’s mother, Nancy Campana

This fundraising memorial event comes to a close with the fifth and last Run for Rocky in 2017. In its first three years $170,000 was raised to benefit gay straight alliances in our secondary school systems in the Windsor Essex region.

About a month later we celebrated the Victoria Weekend with mid-summer like temperatures to herald in Canada’s official start of the summer. Boats were plentiful on the Detroit River and adjacent lakes. And, of course, the Old Vic Tavern in Walkerville was filled to capacity with revelers celebrating their namesake’s holiday.

The Monday Memorial holiday also saw hundreds of runners and walkers along the Detroit Riverfront join with Mayor Drew Dilkens and some of his councillors for the 10th annual Mayor’s Walk. This was followed by the 124th birthday celebration for the City of Windsor at the Riverfront Festival Plaza with everyone enjoying the traditional birthday cake.

An annual rite of summer took place just a week later as the Rotary club of Windsor (1918) hosted Art in the Park June 4th and 5th with all admission fees directly supporting LOCAL children’s charities such as The John McGivney Centre for Children and Maryvale Adolescent and Family Services. Also, a portion of the proceeds went towards the restoration of Walkerville’s historical Willistead Manor.

From June 17 to the 19th – and then again from June 24th to the 26th – the Multicultural Council of Windsor Essex (MCC) blanketed the city with music, dance, food and drink celebrating the culture and customs of the many ethnic cultural communities in our city. “Carrousel by the River – Fusion of Culture Festival” kicked things off before that on June 11& 12, 2016.  This iconic festival at the Riverfront Festival Plaza had something for everyone including cultural cuisine, world music, eclectic art and ethnic dance representing dozens of different cultures.

Running from June 14 through July 4th, Summerfest, hit the Riverfront lands with a wide array of activities and events presented by the Windsor Parade Corporation. Complete with a Midway of thrilling rides, tugboat races and dozens of other events, the highlight of this Festival was the Canada Day Parade on Wyandotte Street East on July 1 which culminated in a big birthday bash at the Riverfront Festival Plaza where birthday cake was enjoyed by hundreds or participants. And as a special treat, Cirque de Soleil who were in town that week performing a number of shows at the WFCU Centre, presented a preview of their show on the Riverfront Festival Plaza stage to the awe and delight of all.

An impromptu vigil to remember the victims of the tragic Orlando shootings at Pulse Night Club attracted in excess of 500 persons on Maiden Lane on the evening of June 5th. The two hour moving event featured addresses by local political leaders, the Police Chief, religious leaders, slam poetry, song and reflections by members of the local LGBTQ community and their allies. It was a moment of healing and togetherness for our community, unlike anything experienced in recent years. A large Canadian Pride flag was signed by everyone and forwarded by Mayor Dilkens to the Mayor of Orlando Florida.

The summer of 2016 also saw the successful move of the Saturday morning Downtown Farmer’s Market to Pelissier Street (north of Wyandotte) and Maiden Lane. Dozens of vendors provide fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods and an assortment of other products to eager shoppers. This weekly event brings a real ‘old world’ charm to the heart of our downtown.

Another successful series of Walkerville Night Market weekends took place this year on Wyandotte Street East (Willistead Restaurant parking lots) on the last weekends of May, June July, August (and, ending in September). Huge, festive crowds were observed and a great time was had by all. Walkerville has certainly become a focal point of many entertaining activities in recent years.

Windsor Pride Fest 2016, a five-day celebration (August 3rd to the 7th), began with the annual flag raising ceremony by Mayor Dilkens at Windsor City Hall Square on Wednesday August 3rd. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirit, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTTIQ) community concluded the week with the largest gay pride parade ever on Ouellette Avenue, and a day of celebration at the Riverfront Festival Plaza.

The first ever Walkerville Busker Fest debuted August 12th to the 14th on Wyandotte Street East. This hugely successful festival entertained thousands of onlookers with world-class performances by busker entertainers from around the world. Entertainers included Pyromancer from Rotterdam, Netherlands; Irish magician, ventriloquist, sword-swallower, and pick-pocket Jack Wise; German performance artist JOHNman, performing his living statue acts Blanko and Woody, Kobbler Jay; and the whip artistry of Seb Whipits. Then there was Pogo Fred, a pogo stick master from Ohio; husband and wife duo Secret Circus from Vermont, who performed a spy-themed unicycle and archery act; and, of course, Windsor’s own Stilt Guys.

While that pretty well sums up the fun experiences I had here in the great City of Roses during the summer of 2016, I hope to highlight some of the great experiences I had in Essex County at their festivals, winery tours and a whole host of the county’s exciting events in a future blog.

Folks, the bottom line is: to have a fun-filled summer, you don’t have to go far from home. There’s plenty to do here in Windsor- Essex!

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Joe McParland
Joe retired January 2015 as a Superintendent from a 26 year career with the Canada Border Services Agency in Windsor. Since then he has jettisoned into a number of exciting new opportunities. Joe is in his 13th year as a volunteer with TVCogeco as their on air personality at Windsor City and Essex County Council Meetings, and his 11 years as a registered Ontario Marriage Officiant. Joe now shares his talents and numerous life experiences with Biz X as a regular blogger, columnist and any other “Joe – Jobs” we can find for him.