May 19th marked the first annual Crossing Bridge Crabapple Blossom Fest that was held in Stittsville. Attendance and enthusiasm were high.
Mandy Hambly was the initiator behind this event and with her organizing team comprised of Roxanne Bronsard, Emily Farr, Tanya Hein, Kerrie Kirkwood, Sue Lagasi, Lesley McKay, Cheryl Noll and Jenna Yvonne in place, the planning was afoot.
After Mandy caught her breath from the excitement of the day, we wanted to know when the inspiration for a Stittsville event like this came about. “I was inspired by time spent living in Japan. “Hanami” picnics are held across the country to celebrate the beautiful, pink and temporary cherry blossoms. My neighborhood in Stittsville, Crossing Bridge, has a lot of crabapple trees which blossom as wonderfully as those in Japan. After our hard Winters, Spring is such a beautiful time in Ottawa, and I thought a community picnic would work so well in the park that sits right in the middle of our community. To get everyone out of the house, and to remind the kids how fun it is to play outside. We unfortunately did not have blossoming crabapples for our first annual event, but I didn’t hear any complaints.”
“I didn’t, but I remember the things that we loved as kids, and fun is fun! Kids know how to find fun, and how to engage with other kids if their imaginations are ignited. I was delighted to see big groups of kids playing with the parachute, kids playing double dutch with their parents, children running around in costumes, yo-yo’ing and tug-o-waring! The ping pong tables stayed busy, and there were kids on bikes going from one end of the park to the other with their friends. The chairs at all three chess boards were never empty, all day! My priorities were activities that kids didn’t need supervision for, things that weren’t dangerous, so parents could relax, things that some kids haven’t seen before (the stilt walker, the Japanese taiko drumming) and activities and exhibitors with emphasis on both art and nature appreciation.”
When did you realize that the community would be so receptive and generous to the Festival? “Right from the start everyone I spoke to about my vision for Blossom Fest was excited by it. I heard countless times how nice it would be to have more family events in Stittsville. Some local businesses were happy to donate items, services and financial help for a first year (potentially disastrous) event because they too were excited for something “new” and different in Stittsville. That was very encouraging for me. So many people of all ages volunteered hours of their own time to do so much to help make it a nice day for Stittsville. Our “team” all agreed to use the event to fundraise for local hero Tysen Lefevbre, and his continued “Mission to a Million” (now in its “beyond a million” stage) for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Eastern Ontario. He’s a huge inspiration to a lot of people around here, and I heard on several occasions from businesses and individuals that they wanted to get involved on account of Tysen.”
Overall, what is your impression of the success of this first Crabapple Blossom Fest? “I am very happy about how the day went. Let’s be honest – this time of year, the weather is in charge. They weren’t calling for any sun, and I got a sun burn at Blossom Fest! People stuck around, left and came back, kids were dirty and sticky and smiling. I’m sad lightening cancelled my planned game of musical lawn chairs, and that we weren’t able to honour our offer of free trees, but I am happy about everything else. And am already planning for 2020!”
Now you know Mandy’s inspiration for the first annual Crabapple Blossom Fest and how it was realized. Here is our snapshot of the day —
The lack of blossomed trees and the odd downpour definitely did not dampen the spirits for all in attendance – as they say ‘the show must go on’ and on it did! Now we just have to wait to see how Mandy will work her magic for next year — this inaugural Crabapple Blossom Fest will be pretty hard to beat!