by Carol Sissons
National Health and Fitness Day, the first Saturday in June, arrived with bright skies.
Plouffe Park, behind the Plant Recreation Centre, quickly filled with all ages running, jumping, kicking, and shooting balls.
Children as young as five competed on the soccer field while older youths battled it out on the basketball court. Outside the park, seniors, families and teens took up the challenge of walking 10,000 Steps while completing a scavenger hunt highlighting local history.
Inside the Plant Recreation Centre, swimmers were treated to free admission.
Excitement mounted as the day focused on a community celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Decorations, flags, and balloons created a festive air.
An historic picture board highlighted the changes in land usage at Somerset and Preston Streets from hunting grounds, to lumber yards, to a circus venue, to one of the first two public pools in Ottawa.
Everyone could try their hand at old-fashioned games, including hoop rolling, marbles, croquet, and ring toss.
Along the 10,000 Steps route, posters and station hosts helped participants get a sense of the rich history of the area: everything from when Italian immigrants first started arriving to why Devonshire School was built with doors on each side of the building.
Any great celebration requires great food. Thanks to Indian Express, Vietnamese Noodle House, Xtreme Pizza, Kaashi Food Centre, Shiraz Market, and Red Apron, there was a delicious selection.
Prizes, exciting hosts, and cakes are three more essentials for parties. Councillors Catherine McKenney and Jeff Leiper met the returning walkers with special words and gifts.
Every soccer player received a medal decorated with both the Canada 150 and Plant Pool Recreation Association logos. Points were contested in the Hoops tournament for movie and restaurant vouchers.
Senator Nancy Greene Raine joined the councillors to cut three large Canada 150 cakes, and MP Yasir Naqvi dropped by to take in the celebrations.
Many individuals from numerous community organizations joined the Plant Pool Recreation Association in the fun of creating this unique local Canada 150 celebration.
These groups included Somerset West Community Health Centre, Devonshire School, RBC Royal Bank, the Hintonburg Recreation Association, the Cougars Soccer Club, Cambridge Street School, the Door, the Dalhousie Community Association, Hintonburg Economic Development Committee, Rosemount Library, and the Gladstone Theatre. Financial support was provided by Ottawa 2017, the City of Ottawa, and CIBC.
Just in case you missed the fun and didn’t find out which Boston Bruins player was a graduate of Cambridge Street School, or why the eyes of the lions at the Chinese Arch were washed at the opening ceremony, remember next June to check out what the Plant Pool Recreation Association is doing for National Health and Fitness Day.
In the meantime, happy birthday, Canada!