(The kids of Blossom Fest danced up a ‘storm’ during the party on May 22nd. Photos: submitted)
Since 2019, after the inaugural Blossom Fest, the day of free fun had taken a hiatus due to Covid. In early spring 2022, when it was announced that events may be able to take place by May, the call came from Mandy Hambly, “we’re doing it, Blossom Fest is happening May 22nd! Are you in again to help organize?” How could anyone say no to planning a free, family fun event that had been a huge success in 2019. The game was afoot and planning began with our first meeting taking place at Mandy’s home.
Saturday, May 21st was a pleasant day for the site visit – it was all taking shape with a large tent and some smaller tents in place, the labyrinth had been created by Ruth Richardson, the stage sat idle waiting to host the live entertainment and of course, the all-important porta-potties were present.
Mandy, along with her organizing team – Lucy Hambly, Gosia Kozak, Amy Hammett, Caitlin Kealey, Lesley McKay, Ruth Richardson, Tanya Hein, Perpetua Quigley – had worked tirelessly organizing the day. Crossing Bridge neighbours got involved with donations of money and up-cycled items and anything else needed, helped to clean the park and delivered flyers to mailboxes. The entertainment was booked and family activities confirmed. It was a true community festival and was promising to be another fantastic day for the neighbourhood.
Sadly mother nature had different thoughts the day before the looked forward to event! On Saturday, May 21, 2022 a powerful storm, called a Derecho, blew through Stittsville wreaking havoc. The storm occurred on the eve of Blossom Fest – what was to be the second free family fun day hosted by the Crossing Bridge Residents Association and organized by Mandy Hambly and her team of volunteers. It had taken months of planning.
The worst of the storm over, the site was left in shambles, the huge tent provided by and set-up by Rental Village on the previous Friday evening was down, with their smaller tents as well. With no power, no cell or telephone service, they had to be told as it could have been a dangerous situation with everyone wandering in complete darkness. In a sporadic moment of cell service and the use of Caitlin’s generator, calls went out. The owner of Rental Village was finally contacted and at a late hour his team showed up at the site in pitch blackness. Using their vehicle headlights, the tent was replaced. Imagine, they took the time to come from Carleton Place, that was also badly hit by the storm, to replace the tent and repair the smaller ones. Huge thanks were sent out to Rental Village – they had saved Blossom Fest!
Mandy and others did not know how hard Stittsville had been affected by the storm, but was aware there was no power. With the tent replaced, “I just had to bring some happiness to the day and especially for the kids – some were clearly traumatized by the storm. I decided to persevere and have the day go on, Mandy told Stittsville Central.
“The volunteers who showed up at 6:30am to help set-up for the day and stayed the entire day were simply amazing, I can’t thank them all enough”, Mandy continued. A group of high schools students from South Carleton and Paul Desmarais were on-site early setting-up, gave away free books, decorated the stage, lugged anything that needed lugging, held ladders, played with kids and packed up at the end – they were clearly having fun! Mandy called the students her ‘Dream Team’ and hopes to be able to thank them all during a less stressful time.
“And the majority of performers who were able to participate, some not knowing that Stittsville was without power, also came through and saved the day!” “I had no way of knowing who was able to come and participate even with some sending messages. With service out I sadly didn’t receive the messages. It sure made for a hectic (or frantic) time.”
In particular, without a sound system, the day would have been a bit more quiet and difficult for the singers and other performers. Then it all came together when DJ Flash Prime (Matty) arrived on scene. He had his wife (Sam), with their newborn baby, had driven in from Gatineau to arrive and be told that the entire town of Stittsville had no power. Not a problem! In no time whatsoever Bluetooth speakers, powered by batteries, were on the stage with the music playing for Julia from Luv2Groove to get the grass dance party started.
Sarah Boyd of Move Camp Canada was able to MC, the next act, Ty the Magic Guy, brought the best laughs to the entire site and beyond. Then there was the voice of Tegan Pilon filling the air and the beautiful harp music from Savannah Kylie.Did you catch the stilt walker, Gabrielle Lalonde from the Ottawa Stilt Union, strolling the grounds? What about Bert Brandon of Bubble Birthdays; or the great Karate master, John Laroda of ProStyle; Olivia Carey and Christina Katan, the Aerial Gymnasts, were phenomenal.
There had been the promise of food for those in attendance. Well you guessed it, the lack of power posed a problem, but only for a short time. Chef Reggie of Scratch Box Gastro Truck showed up with food for the volunteers; Melissa and Tola Eam brought delicious Thai pancakes to give out; but with everyone also looking forward to ice cream – what is a festival without ice cream? – sadly Jen, owner of Holmespun Ice Cream who was to be there with her ice cream truck, had her entire prepared order melt away because of the power outage.
So many local businesses and residents supported and sponsored Blossom Fest with donations of time, items, prizes and money. Bicycles had been donated by the 1st Kanata Scouts and others, prizes had been purchased or donated. Mandy told us she can’t thank everyone enough who helped. Below is a list of the generous contributors:
- Carol Traversy, Patricia & Ross Webley at Coldwell Banker Realty – https://www.coldwellbanker.ca/office/2-hobin-street-stittsville-on-k2s1c4/
- Jameel Lalji at Jameel Insurance and Financial Services Limited https://weinsureottawa.ca
- Natalie and Katie, Oxford Learning Stittsville https://www.oxfordlearning.com/locations/tutor-stittsville/
- Hazeldean Gardens (https://www.hazeldeangardens.ca)
- Wildpine Residence (https://wildpineresidence.ca)
- Kodiak Snow and Sheds (https://kodiaksnow.ca)
- Cavanagh Construction (http://thomascavanagh.ca)
- Warmstone Family Dentistry (https://warmstone.ca)
- Hamsterwheel Bike Repair (https://www.facebook.com/hamsterwheelbikerepair/)
- Councillor Glen Gower’s Office (https://www.glengower.ca)
- Eco West Enders (https://www.facebook.com/EcoWestEnders/)
- Ecology Ottawa (https://www.ecologyottawa.ca)
- Stittsville Central (https://stittsvillecentral.ca)
- Stittsville Village Association (https://www.stittsvilleva.com) – Barry Gray, Tanya Hein, Lesley McKay & Joseph Carbonetto
- Crossing Bridge Residents’ Association (https://www.facebook.com/CrossingBridgeResidents/)
- Community Voice Newspaper – Jorge Maria (https://ottawavoice.ca/stittsville—richmond.html)
- Stittsville Lions (https://stittsvillelions.com) Beth and Helen
- A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School (teachers gave student art for art show)
- Bushtukah, Stittsville (https://shop.bushtukah.com)
- Browns Independent Grocer (https://www.yourindependentgrocer.ca/store-locator/details/0405)
- Mavericks Donuts (https://www.mavericksdonuts.com/stittsville/)
- Play Value, Carp (https://www.playvaluetoys.com)
- Pixie Dust Holidays (https://www.pixiedustholidays.ca)
Mandy thought that only she and her daughter, Lucy, would be the only ones in attendance. Not to be. Mandy’s perseverance, the fantastic volunteers and entertainers coming together on May 22nd made the day the success that it was. It was a perfect outlet for the kids and families to take their minds off of a stressful situation for a few hours on the May long weekend. A community coming together for another chapter of the fun and free Blossom Fest.
Lost and Found 2022:
Let Mandy know if any of the above items belong to you by sending a message through the Blossom Fest Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CrossingBridgesFest so she can get them returned to you.
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