White Rock Sea Festival stages comeback

The White Rock Sea Festival was back in fine fettle on the August long weekend.

And Michelle Pedersen, president of the fledgling White Rock Events Society, said that while a post-festival meeting of organizers is yet to take place, the event was successful and even exceeded her expectations for this year.

"We're already looking forward to doing it again next year," she said, adding that organizers would like to fine-tune some elements, including on setting an effective shuttle to bring more people down to the beach without having to worry about traffic and parking.

"We came close to doing that this year, but there just wasn't the money to do it properly," she said.

Thousands attended various events during the weekend and crowds were out in large numbers for the headliner performance by the Powder Blues Band at the White Rock stage on Saturday night, for the ever-popular Waiters' Race, and lining Marine Drive on both East Beach and West Beach for Sunday's torchlight parade.

While City of White Rock communications officer Shannon Levesque could not give an official number of Sea Festival attendees – "with no set entry or exit point, it's near impossible to give an official count" – she said the city was "very pleased with the turn-out – it was very well attended."

Pedersen said that she was also gratified to hear that while attendance was up, policing the three-day event had posed no significant problems or issues for White Rock RCMP.

"I wasn't expecting as many people as there were," Pedersen she added, noting that she was pleased with the number who gathered for the Powder Blues concert.

"I would have been happy with a quarter of that crowd."

Pedersen credited community volunteers and organizers with the society for much of the success of the event – particularly long-time Sea Festival organizer Maureen Beales (formerly Kelly) who returned to lend her expertise to organizing the crucial component of the parade.

"It was awesome, although it was not without hiccups – like a float breaking down. You appreciate why the parade didn't happen that way in recent years – if you didn't have a Maureen Beales it would be overwhelming."

Much of the society's budget had gone to create a new City of White Rock float for the White Rock Youth Ambassadors to ride on, but it had paid off in attracting other cities' floats and participation of other groups and sponsors, she said.

"If you don't have a float, you don't have a parade – and the parade is what's been happening for most of the 65 years of the Sea Festival."

Pedersen quipped that she and Mayor Wayne Baldwin seemed to be "attached at the hip" after showing up for so many of the same events throughout the weekend.

"Every time I'd see him and his wife, they'd be grinning ear to ear – that's what I wanted to see, that and grandparents and kids and families coming down and taking part."



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