New West May Day ready for a 'suite' day for students

It’s that time of year - the Royal Suite has been selected and the children have learned all their steps. May Day is approaching and New Westminster students are ready to participate, according to Karim Hachlaf, superintendent of schools.

“It’s a great community-wide event,” he said. “The student audience packs the stands.”

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There are also community members, parents, council members and other politicians, such as NDP MLA Judy Darcy, who come out to see the festivities on May Day, Hachlaf said.

The event kicks off on Wednesday, May 22 at 11:20 a.m. when the students march into Queen’s Park Stadium. The Royal Procession makes its entrance at 11:30 a.m.

“We’re really maintaining a similar schedule to what we did last year at Queen’s Park with a few additions,” Hachlaf said.

New elements this year include a police dog demo and hip-hop dancers, he said.

And this year, the New Westminster Secondary School Jazz Band will be playing, he added. Last year they weren’t available but they have been a part of the event in years past.

“We’re thrilled to have our jazz band perform as well,” he said.

The Royal Suite from this year and last year play a large part, with the retiring Royal Suite introduced just after 12 p.m., and the retiring Royal Consort and May Queen making speeches soon after.

The traditional May Pole dances are held at 12:25 p.m., with more than 200 Grade 4 students participating this year, Hachlaf said.

The crowning ceremony is at 12:50 p.m., and the incoming Royal Consort and the May Queen each make a speech afterwards.

More than 200 Grade 3 students are participating in the folk dances at the end of the event.

“We are still running with traditional folk dancing for our Grade 3s and May Pole dancing for our Grade 4s,” Hachlaf said. “All of our schools are participating.”

This year marked a change for the annual event, as students learned their dance moves after school instead of during class time.

“There was a significant transition from instructional time to non-instructional time,” Hachlaf said.

Those who were interested in participating in the dances and were able to attend lessons after school will be part of the performances at May Day, while those who weren’t will be cheering from the crowd, he said.

“We wanted to ensure the importance of the tradition,” he explained.

The event wraps up at 1:20 p.m. after the singing of God Save the Queen.

For those adults who want to celebrate May Day early and get in the spirit before the actual event, there is also a May Day Social at the Royal City Curling Club on Saturday, May 18 from 7 to 11 p.m. It is held by the New Westminster May Day Community Association. There will be dancing and socializing, as well as a May Pole. There will also be food and a cash bar.

The May Day Schedule

  • 11:20 a.m. Students march in
  • 11:30 a.m. Royal Suite Procession
  • 11:33 a.m. Welcome, roll call, O Canada
  • 11:40 a.m. Traditional welcome, opening remarks
  • 11:43 a.m. Introductions
  • 11:46 a.m. Police dog demo
  • 12:01 p.m. Introduction of the retired Royal Suite, retiring Royal Consort speech
  • 12:10 p.m. New Westminster Secondary School Jazz Band
  • 12:20 p.m. Retiring queen speech
  • 12:25 p.m. Maypole dances
  • 12:40 p.m. Medal presentation
  • 12:45 p.m. Signing of the register
  • 12:50 p.m. Crowning ceremony
  • 12:55 p.m. Incoming Royal Consort and May Queen speeches
  • 1 p.m. Hip Hop dancers
  • 1:05 p.m. Folk dances
  • 1:15 p.m. Closing remarks, God Save the Queen

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