Maypole dance highlights spring festival

James Thomson Elementary School continues annual May Day celebration

Following a tradition dating back more than 60 years, James Thomson Elementary School will host May Day festivities on Friday, May 18. The event begins with a parade, including students, Powell River Clansman Pipe Band members and Tla’amin Nation drummers.

“We do the parade at about 9:15 am; the classes are all in their school team colours,” says school principal Jasmin Marshman. “There are lots of vintage cars in the parade, too, and the pipers come pipe us around. And we have drummers from Tla'amin, so we're pretty loud.”

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The parade starts on the school grounds, then follows a route along Sutherland Avenue and Highway 101 before a left turn at Joncas Place brings the procession back to the school field.

“Once everyone is settled from the parade we have the ceremonial part,” says Marshman. “There are May Day speeches from the mayor and MLA Nicholas Simons, and an elder from Tla’amin opens with a prayer and talk.”

Tla’amin hegus Clint Williams will also be among the dignitaries onstage.

As part of the ceremony, 2018 May Day ambassadors from grade seven remove their capes and put them on grade six students chosen earlier this week for an ambassador role in 2019.

“Students apply, go in front of a panel and explain why they think they should be a James Thomson ambassador,” says Marshman.

Grade three students perform the maypole dance, followed by James Thomson kindergarten students and Chi Chuy Preschool students joining together for a traditional friendship dance.

“Students have been practising for about a month for the maypole dance; it is a little complicated with the ribbons,” says Marshman. “They have been practising for the friendship dance for a couple of weeks, as well.”

Marshman says members of the public are welcome to come out and watch.

“Lots of people come from Wildwood and Powell River who either went to James Thomson and have been in May Days or heard about it,” she says. “There is a big audience section set up; it is always full.

Following the ceremony, students take part in fun sporting activities while adults can visit a concession area with refreshments, baked goods and a May Day tea hosted by the Wildwood Grannies.

"Lots of people really look forward to coming to May Day,” says Marshman. “Most watch the ceremonial stuff and then have a tea and a treat.”

James Thomson May Day Ceremony
When: Friday, May 18
Where: 6388 Sutherland Avenue
Start time: 9:15 am

Copyright © 2018 Powell River Peak

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