Remembrance Day services expected to draw large crowds

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Okotoks Royal Canadian Legion members are expecting a standing-room-only crowd once again for this year’s Remembrance Day service.

More than 3,000 people attended the ceremony in 2016, and Malcolm Hughes, chairman of the Okotoks Legion, said they expect similar attendance this year. This will be the third year the service has been held in the Pason Centennial Arena, after outgrowing the Foothills Centennial Centre.

“The support has been tremendous from the people of Okotok and we’re pretty sure it will be just the same,” said Hughes.

Doors open at 9 a.m. at the Centennial Arena and the service begins at 10:15 a.m., he said. Hughes said he advises people to come early as parking on-site could be an issue due to a Christmas market scheduled next door at the centennial centre the same time, as well as construction on the Pason expansion.

The service will begin with music by the Cappy Smart Band out of Calgary.

“This year they’re going to be playing a selection of military marches to represent navy, army and air force,” said Hughes. “That’s something we haven’t done in the past.”

Other music will include a local group of pipers playing the lament, among other selections, and a choir to sing hymns.

The Okotoks Legion and local veterans will be joined by the Indian Veteran’s Association out of Calgary and current serving reservists from the 15th Field Ambulance and King’s Own Calgary Regiments.

An officer from the 15th Field Ambulance Regiment will speak about his experience in the service, and the traditional laying of the wreaths will be led by a Silver Cross mother – someone who has lost a child, sibling or spouse in combat. She will be followed by government officials, the Legion and veterans, and then the general public.

The entire service will be broadcast on a large screen in Pason Centennial so those without a good view of the podium can still feel like part of the ceremony, he said.

“It’s a very standard procedure,” said Hughes. “Wherever you go to a Legion around Remembrance Day you see a very similar service.”

Any members of the public or service clubs interested in laying a wreath at the Okotoks Remembrance Day service are asked to contact the Legion or Hughes directly prior to Nov. 11. Preferably, those community members would be available to attend the rehearsal on Friday evening, he said, though it’s not necessary if the Legion knows to expect the wreath.

“Last year was a problem because a lot of people didn’t tell us they wanted to lay wreaths or that they weren’t laying wreaths, so it became a little difficult at one point,” said Hughes. “We’d like to avoid that this year.”

To lay a wreath, contact the Legion at okotoks.legion@gmail.com or call Hughes at 587-757-9550.

A second service will be held in Okotoks at the cenotaph in Frederick Price Memorial Park. It is hosted by the Kientz family and begins at 10:15 a.m. Veteran’s Way will be closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the cenotaph service.

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