The Royal Canadian Legion BC and Yukon Command along with the BC Ladies Auxiliary will kick off their joint convention this Sunday with a parade from Cenotaph Park to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Marking the 50th biennial convention for the Legion and the 60th for the Ladies Auxiliary, organizers are anticipating the march will be one of the biggest parades of its kind ever with up to 600 members participating.
“It will be a massive thing,” said Bud Sadegur, Zone Commander and the convention’s local arrangements chair. “The ladies auxiliary alone are bringing 150 flags just of theirs, so you can imagine the enormity of this thing.
“There will be all sorts of military vehicles in this parade. We have got a whole contingent of World War II and Korean military vehicles, half tracks, Jeeps and all kinds of other stuff coming out from the coast. We’ve got three different pipe bands, two Air Force cadet units and one army cadet unit. We might even be having a military flyby as there is a guy in Oliver who has a Warbird.
“It is not very often that we have a parade like this one will be and it is getting larger and larger everyday.”
According to Sadegur, the parade will be grand-marshaled by 91-year-old Steve Dunsdon of Summerland.
“He is a World War II vet and he is also a former provincial president and a former Dominion or national president, back in the 70s,” said Sadegur. “So, there are a lot of people who will be quite pleased to see Mr. Dunsdon marshal the parade.”
Sadegur said other dignitaries involved will include Lieutenant Governor Steven Point, Royal Canadian Legion Dominion President Patricia Varga and Captain Craig Baines, Commander of the Esquimalt Canadian Forces Base.
“All of these people will be at the reviewing stand beside the Peach on the corner of Winnipeg and Lakeshore,” he said.
The event will begin with a wreath laying ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at Cenotaph Park, followed by the parade at 2 p.m. and the conferences opening ceremonies at 3:30 p.m. with between 700 or 800 people attending those, said Sadegur.
“It is not often that we have a joint convention,” Sadegur said. “Normally we have a convention of the Legion and then the Ladies Auxiliary have their own conventions.”
However, Sadegur said when he became the chair he pushed to have the Ladies Auxiliary join the larger convention so that the Legion could recognize the significant contributions the Ladies Auxiliary has made throughout the decades.
“If it had not been for the Ladies Auxiliary over the years there probably wouldn’t be as many legions as there are today,” he said. “The ladies auxiliary has been the fund raising engine for a lot of legions for a lot of years. They did all the catering. They did all the banquet work. And what did the ladies do with all the money? They gave it to the legions. So, there are many legions today that owe their existence to their Ladies Auxiliary.”
But Sadegur said lately the Ladies Auxiliary groups are diminishing, or disappearing altogether, as their younger female counterparts choose to join the Legion instead.
“A lot of them are struggling to remain viable but I think that as long as they are there, they are owed prominence in what we do,” he said. “Part of our creed is that we shall never forget the contributions made by our soldiers, sailors and airmen, but we also do not want to forget the contributions made by the Ladies Auxiliary.”