Visiting scouts from Port Orchard

Bigger show of ‘hands’ at the border

International event attracts 10,000 to Peace Arch park in South Surrey

An estimated 10,000 Girl Guides, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls from the U.S. and Canada packed Peace Arch International Park Sunday afternoon for the 90th Hands Across the Border parade.

It was the best turnout in 10 years, said a tired but happy Sue Head, the international president of the International Peace Arch Association which organizes the event.

“It was amazing,” Head said Monday.

“It seems like they all came.”

Head said it was evident early on that attendance was up, when 30 buses pulled up to unload the Canadian participants, up about 50 per cent from previous years.

And for the first time in a long time, she said, there were more Canadian participants than Americans.

Head said the previous record for attendance was set the year before the 9-11 tragedy, when 13,000 kids attended.

After the 2001 terrorist attack, numbers dropped sharply, to as little as 6,000.

Then the event was cancelled in 2008 because of extensive construction at the border crossing, and the economic downturn hasn’t helped, either.

“Over the last few years, it’s been tough for people to get here,” Head said.

But this year, to rededicate the arch that was built with funds from school kids, Canadians came from as far away as Prince George, Prince Rupert and Kamloops, while some of the Americans hailed from as far away as Idaho and Colorado.

Volunteers at the concession stands ran out of souvenirs to sell by 10 a.m. that morning and they came close to running out of hotdogs.

“We sold everything,” Head said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”

Head credits the success of the event to the many volunteers who worked long hours to make it happen.

“It’s a lot of work by a lot of people,” she said.

Jill Battie, First Semiahmoo Guides leader, led a group of six local participants to the event.

She says the high point for her kids was the trading of pinnable hat crafts or “swaps,” while for her it was the opportunity to reconnect with people.

“I see guides and friends I haven’t seen in years,” Battie said.

The Peace Arch border crossing was closed from noon till 4 p.m. Sunday to allow the participants to stage their parade and mingle freely about the park.

The organizers of the event are looking for more volunteers to help next year. Email

for more information.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Glenn Rose

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read