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Revel in 153 years of tradition: New Westminster May Day returns

New Westminster's 153rd May Day returns to Queen's Park on May 27 – and you can get involved
mayday2022
Maypole dances were part of the festivities at the 2022 May Day in Queen's Park Stadium.

Let the revels (and lessons) begin.

The New Westminster May Day Community Association has announced that New Westminster’s 153rd May Day will take place at Queen’s Park Stadium on Saturday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m., with doors opening at 3 p.m.

“We are thrilled to be hosting New Westminster’s world-famous May Day children’s festival again this year,” May Day Association president Nikki Binns said in a news release. “Spectators are encouraged to arrive early for this free event as last year, in 2022, the event was at near capacity.”

The association is inviting local kids to get involved in this year’s event as members of the Royal Suite and as dancers.

A draw for positions in the Royal Suite – including the May Queen and Royal Knights – will take place on Sunday, May 7. Any children living in New West who are in Grade 5 or 6 are invited to enter the draw.

Folk dances and maypole ribbon dances are a longtime tradition with New Westminster’s May Day celebrations.

They’re returning as part of the “fun and pageantry” of this year’s festivities, said the association. 

The May Day Association will be offering free traditional folk-dance lessons for children in grades 2 and 3, and may pole dance lessons for kids in grades 4 to 6. Classes begin the week of April 10 and will be held after school or in the evening in select school gyms and community centres in New West.

Folk dance lessons will be held at Queensborough Community Centre on Wednesdays from April 12 to May 24 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. They’ll also be offered at Centennial Community Centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays from April 11 to May 25 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Maypole dance instruction will take place at: Queen Elizabeth Elementary School on Wednesdays from April 12 to May 17 (3:30 to 4:30 p.m.); Connaught Heights Elementary on Wednesdays from April 12 to May 24 – no class May 17 (5 to 6 p.m.); and FW Howay Elementary on Tuesdays from April 11 to May 16 (6 to 7 p.m.) All lessons will be held the schools’ gyms.

Entry forms for the Royal Suite and registration forms for dance lessons (to be completed by parents or guardians) are available at www.nwmayday.com.

After a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19, more than 300 spectators attended the 2022 May Day event in Queen’s Park, which featured the crowning of the May Queen, maypole and folk dances performed by local children, entertainment from a variety of dance groups, a land acknowledgment, and speeches by a number of dignitaries, including Qayqayt First Nation Chief Rhonda Larrabee.

Support needed

The May Day Association reports that sponsor and donor support is greatly needed for this year’s event.

“The May Day Association would like to thank our generous sponsors, without whom May Day in New Westminster would not be possible,” Rocky Suffron, the association’s vice-president, said in the news release. “The City of New Westminster is to be especially thanked for providing our spectacular venue, Queen’s Park Stadium, as well as providing critical cash and in-kind financial support. Other flagship sponsors include Beachcomber Hot Tubs, Key West Ford and G&F Financial. More sponsor and donor support is desperately needed. Individual donors can donate to May Day online via the May Day webpage.”

The association is raising funds for May Day at a pub night fundraiser (and silent auction) taking place on Thursday, March 30 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Begbies Tavern, 609 Columbia St. Tickets ($25 plus service fees) include a burger (choice of beef, chicken, or veggie) with fries or a house salad and a beer (choice of a 1516 lager or a pale ale).

Tickets are available at Eventbrite.ca (search for May Day pub night fundraiser).

May Day was first held in New West in 1870, when Nellie McColl was crowned New Westminster’s first May Queen. Last year’s event marked the first time the community-based May Day Association organized and hosted the event, after the school district decided it would no longer be involved in organizing the event after 2020.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email tmcmanus@newwestrecord.ca