With the Island Farms Victoria Day Parade just days away from casting its spell over thousands of spectators, Rob Galey is wielding his float-making tools with some magic of his own.
“You look so calm,” Jenny Matechuk tells the Saanich farmer, who has had a hand in crafting two dozen Victoria Day and Santa Light parade floats over the years, including his family’s.
Matechuk, Island Farms marketing and events co-ordinator, is admiring the finishing touches Galey and his team are putting on the Island Farms float.
As it winds down Douglas Street on Monday (May 23), between 60,000 and 70,000 parade-goers will marvel at an oversized milk carton pouring its contents into a large cup.
“When you look at a float, it’s not how I look at a float,” says Galey, who works on the motorized displays when farming winds down for the winter.
“It’s like making a cake,” he says. “The icing person gets all the credit.”
While Galey’s work is heating up, Ron Butlin’s is winding down.
The volunteer parade organizer’s phone isn’t ringing 20 times a day anymore, and months spent securing entries are about to pay off.
It’s now up to 40 volunteers from the Lions Clubs from around the region to marshal 4,000 people in 145 entries at the Mayfair Shopping Centre parking lot on parade morning.
The hard work has its rewards.
“My favourite part is watching the enjoyment of families,” says Butlin, who has spent the past 21 years organizing the Victoria Day and Christmas parades as chair of the Greater Victoria Festival Society. “There’s not many things families can go to today without putting a hand in their pocket.”
The delight on children’s faces inspires the Victoria resident to keep going.
“This is the 113th consecutive year for the parade but I haven’t done them all,” jokes Butlin, who says he has no plans to retire.
“Not yet, but I’m getting closer,” he adds. “When I get up in the morning it’s nice to have a purpose.”
Besides, come Oct. 1 there is the Island Farms Santa Light Parade to start preparing for.
“The parades just don’t happen,” Butlin says.
The Island Farms Victoria Day Parade begins at 9 a.m. on Monday (May 23) at Mayfair Shopping Centre, continues along Douglas Street until it reaches Humboldt Street around noon.
By the numbers:
• 21: American marching bands featuring 2,400 high school students
• $1.3 million: money spent here by American bands
• 4,000: parade participants
• 145: parade entries
• 60,000 to 70,000: spectators