White Rock Youth Ambassadors participate in the 2013 Spirit of the Sea Festival parade.

White Rock Youth Ambassadors participate in the 2013 Spirit of the Sea Festival parade.

New life sought for White Rock sea festival

Volunteers from past festivals strive to breathe new life into White Rock’s Spirit of the Sea event.

Efforts are underway to once again breathe new life into White Rock’s longstanding annual waterfront festival.

Those rallying support for the next incarnation of the Spirit of the Sea Festival say while discussions are still in the early stages, anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to step forward.

“There is interest in, specifically, trying to pull together a celebration next year, and it’s really in regards to the 65th anniversary,” said Brian Hagerman, a longtime White Rock resident who was involved in the festival about 25 years ago.

“The interest from myself and others is to see if there is a way to put together the society in a format that would really sort of celebrate that 65th anniversary, and get the full support of the city and the residents for a summer event.”

Hagerman said a group of about 10 people has been meeting since mid-August – shortly after the last festival wrapped up – to explore the options, and they expect to have a new society established in the next three weeks.

Creating something sustainable will take time, money and people, he said.

The latter two were key challenges faced this year, in particular, by those involved with the Community of Lights Events Society. That volunteer group formed in the late 1990s to reincarnate the festival after the previous organizing group dissolved in the wake of fraud charges against its former president.

Hagerman said overcoming the negativity that still exists from all those years ago was a hurdle for the Community of Lights Events Society, and remains a hurdle going forward.

“If it had run without incident for the last 25 years, I think that it almost wouldn’t be a story that some people are thinking that they would like to get involved,” he said.

The “door is open” for Community of Lights Events Society volunteers to join in the new group, Hagerman added, noting the aim is to build on elements that worked and learn from those that didn’t.

Invitations have also been extended to existing groups such as swim clubs and Rotary groups to take ownership of specific elements of the festival, so that everything doesn’t fall on the laps of one small group of organizers.

The City of White Rock’s involvement would be integral, Hagerman said.

Anyone wanting to get involved may contact Hagerman at 604-536-5634.

The next meeting is being planned for late November.