EDITORIAL: Festival can’t float on its own

Annual White Rock festival has been around – in some form or another – since 1952.

Call it Spirit of the Sea or Sea Festival, a summertime event celebrating the seaside splendour of White Rock and the Semiahmoo Peninsula has been an ongoing feature of the community since 1952.

Annual city celebrations were part of the scene even before that, of course – it was to fill the void left by waning interest in the city’s formerly vibrant May Day celebration that the idea of a sea festival was first floated (pardon the pun) in 1949. It took three years to bring the idea to fruition, but it was an almost instant success, resonating with residents even though traffic-handling and a shortage of parking at the waterfront were issues even then.

In the ensuing six decades, the fortunes of the event have ebbed and flowed almost as much as the tides in the bay.

But even with changes of name and organization structure, the event has survived – even though it seems to be something that everyone looks to someone else to provide.

Each year, organizers face an uphill battle of co-ordinating details and scraping together funding. Each year, the event is reprieved, somehow, in spite of flagging interest in shouldering responsibility, and complaints (usually from those not wading in to help) that it’s not the festival of old.

And so we reach 2013 and a festival that organizers admit on the official website is some $8,500 short of its funding goal (and even though it’s still a free event, donations will be gratefully accepted).

If we feel that the event is a huge midsummer hassle we can do without, then we should stand by with arms folded, waiting for its demise. If we feel it’s more trouble than it’s worth to manage, then we should look the other way, when organizers appeal for help from the community.

But if we like the idea of a sea festival; if we, like the residents of 60 years ago, have pride in our community and a desire to celebrate it, then we should be willing to put our money where our mouth is, literally or figuratively.

Whatever else you may have going on this weekend, make the festival part of the plans. Help can come in many ways – by donating, by volunteering or by participating; showing active and energetic appreciation that the Spirit of the Sea is still a vital and viable event.

If the festival is to continue for years to come, it’s time to get up off our patio chairs, quit complaining and be the change we hope to see.

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