Port Coquitlam goes virtual with historic May Days

Performances, art projects online as the city continues with its 97th program despite COVID-19

Port Coqutilam is not ready to give up on its iconic May Days festival and will be asking residents to participate in the 97th annual tradition with a virtual event and online activities.

With COVID-19 and physical distancing requirements cancelling events all over the Lower Mainland, organizers are coming up with creative ways to celebrate.

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To that end, Port Coquitlam is not only offering an afternoon of performances, but has organized a series of community projects that people can do online as well.

“We know how much May Days means to our community and I’m pleased we’re able to keep this important tradition alive in some way, even though it will look different than past,” said Mayor Brad West, who will host the event. 

“What we hope won’t change, however, is the community coming together to celebrate and show their PoCo Pride. By pivoting to an online event this year, Port Coquitlam is holding on to our traditions and our resolve to adapt to challenging times. I commend all our community partners who have stepped up to help pull this off and a special thank you to this year’s Royal Party who had been working hard prior to our plans changing.”

Residents are encouraged to plan an online viewing party with family, friends and neighbours and tune into www.portcoquitlam.ca/maydays for a live broadcast on May 9, from 3 to 5 p.m. 

This year’s online festivities replace the iconic annual parade, Party in the Square and other events that draw thousands into downtown Port Coquitlam and were cancelled this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The lineup on May 9 will feature a variety of safely pre-recorded local music and performance acts that will be introduced by the mayor and May Days committee chair, Bob Lee, along with interesting May Days trivia, and other interactive activities and surprises. 

The city is encouraging viewers to participate by:

• Shopping local and ordering take-out from Port Coquitlam restaurants and pubs while watching the performances (check website for participating businesses); and

• Hosting virtual viewing block parties by video conference to get to know their neighbours better and share some laughs, art, stories or even ideas about how to cope.

“I encourage everyone to gather with their families, watch the show virtually and support our local businesses,” added Mayor West. “Like our typical May Days, we want this year’s festival to promote a sense of community, where we all care about and look after each other.“ 

The festivities kick off on May 6 with community performances and activities being shared at www.portcoquitlam.ca/maydays or www.pocomayday.ca

“This is a great way for the city to celebrate and support our local arts while keeping everyone safe,” said Coun. Nancy McCurrach, council’s designate for arts, culture and heritage. “It’s important that we continue to provide our community with ways to uplift their spirit, stay positive and support each other.”

Other activities being planned include:

‘What My Community Means to Me’ Art Project

Port Coquitlam residents of all ages and the 2020 May Days Royal Party will be invited to participate in a May Days community art project by expressing in words or drawings what Port Coquitlam means to them. A special commemorative package will also be provided to all members of this year’s Royal Party to recognize their efforts.

A May Days template will be available online on May 6, and artwork can be submitted through an online form or the drop box at the Outlet in Leigh Square by June 15. Submissions will be shared through social media, become part of a large digital art piece, and will be maintained as a record of this unique period of the city’s history at the Port Coquitlam Heritage Museum.  

Mother’s Day Card Online Workshop 

The Wellness Wednesday series will feature an online workshop on May 6 at www.portcoquitlam.ca/recreation on how to make a special pop-up Mother’s Day card.

‘PoCo Has Heart’ Community Street Banners 

As an addition to the 2020 Community Street Banner project, the city will unveil four new heart-themed banner designs selected from the hundreds of drawings residents have submitted to the city over the past month. Watch for the banners on the Coast Meridian Overpass in mid-June.

Flash Fiction Contest 

The City and Terry Fox Library are inviting residents to write a short adventure story (less than 750 words) that takes place in Port Coquitlam. Writer Kevin Spenst will be hosting a virtual writing workshop for teens on Friday, May 8 and for adults on Sunday, May 17. The contest will run May 4 to June 4. For details visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/maydays.   

May Days: A Community Legacy

Although Port Coquitlam’s celebration dates back to 1923, May Days’ roots go back centuries. In ancient times, May was a time of outdoor celebration, and May Day was celebrated by the Romans with flower-decked parades in honour of Flora, their goddess of flowers. While the festival has evolved and grown over the years, it has maintained many of its original traditions, including – in other years – Maypole dancing and the crowning of local children as part of the May Days Royal Party.

May Days is organized in partnership with the May Days Committee and the Port Coquitlam Centennial Rotary Club and is funded by Canadian Heritage. 

Visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/maydays for details.

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