Party of the century on White Rock pier ‘bears repeat’

Arts fundraiser marks pier's 100th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of Semiahmoo Arts

It was billed as the party of the century, and Semiahmoo Arts executive director Mary Brunet said the Aug. 28 Party On The Pier fundraiser – celebrating the 100th anniversary of White Rock’s iconic landmark and the 40th anniversary of the arts group – was a definite success.

And Mayor Wayne Baldwin was so impressed, he is predicting similar soirees on the waterfront structure will become “at least” an annual event.

“A couple times a summer, it could work,” Baldwin told Peace Arch News Friday. “It’s a heritage structure, doesn’t mean it can’t be used.”

Mostly MarleyBrunet said close to 500 people, including ticket-holding guests, volunteers, entertainers and staff gathered at the pier Thursday evening to mingle and socialize to the sounds of the Powder Blues Band and Mostly Marley, who entertained at the breakwater-end of the illuminated structure.

“It went wonderfully,” Brunet said, noting more than 370 people paid the $100 ticket price for the event, with funds benefiting the organization’s programs to support visual, performing and literary arts on the Peninsula.

“It all went smoothly – people were dancing and party-goers were happy, and the majority stayed right to the end, at 10 p.m.”

Baldwin described the evening as “a lot of fun, really a neat experience,” and commended the organizing committee for a job well done. They “probably set a blueprint for future events like that,” he said, noting he would only entertain requests to host not-for-profit functions.

Council voted unanimously in May to back the anniversary party, including about $3,500 in in-kind contributions from the city.

At the time, Baldwin expressed concern with the event’s proximity to an active rail line in combination with the availability of alcohol. He said Friday that trains did roll by during the function, but there were no disruptions as a result.

Tickets to the party were limited to 700. Those who didn’t want to spend the $100 had access to the first 200 feet of the pier.

Baldwin said that while there were people who wanted to access the pier without a ticket, he heard no complaints overall.

Lit-up sailboats and paddle-boarding passersby were added highlights of the evening, Baldwin said.

Brunet paid tribute to the event’s many sponsors – including local restaurants – who picked up many of the costs of the evening, and a “wonderful response from volunteers.”

“We have a very generous community,” she said. “I’m… humbled by everyone’s support.”

Brunet said it would probably take a few days to assess how much money was raised.

“It was definitely a successful fundraiser,  and that only helps the arts in our community.”

– with files from Tracy Holmes