Peace Arch Park was the backdrop for the 88th annual Hands Across the Border last weekend

Peace Arch Park was the backdrop for the 88th annual Hands Across the Border last weekend

Fostering friendship

Thousands descended on Peace Arch Park Sunday for the 88th annual Hands Across the Border celebration

Thousands descended on Peace Arch Park Sunday for the 88th annual Hands Across the Border celebration.

The event saw Girl Guides, Scouts, cadets and other youth from Canada and the U.S. gather for a day of festivities that included a parade through the Peace Arch.

Sue Head, president of the International Peace Arch Association, said more than 8,000 youth, ages six to 19, participated, many trading pins and badges with their peers.

Border traffic was diverted, as participants travelled from as far as Port McNeill on the Canadian side, and from Modesto, Calif. on the U.S. side, Head noted.

In the veterans wreath-laying ceremony, two young veterans were honoured.

Thirty-year-old Bellingham resident Clayton Swansen, who served in Iraq with the US Navy, and 21-year-old Surrey resident Clayton Doyle, who served in Afghanistan with the Canadian Army, were escorted by Second World War veterans and each laid a wreath during the ceremony.

Head said two younger veterans were honoured instead of the usual Second World War veterans in an effort to be “more relevant to kids.”

“The kids relate better to what these people are doing.”

The theme of the event – which is in its 92nd year – was “hands in friendship,” to promote working together, Head said.

“These kids are the future, so what we’re hoping is good relations between Canada the U.S.,” she said. “We hope they see if they work together, better things happen.”