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'It is a real sense of pride for our community'

Armed Forces Day returns for the first time since 2019

For the first time since 2019, the waterfront was covered with people celebrating the 2022 Armed Forces Day festivities down at the North Bay waterfront.  

Hundreds gathered on the government dock and Shabogesic Beach. looking up as the SkyHawks parachute demonstration team amazed onlookers with their fancy maneuvers as they landed on the beach with their maple leaf adorned parachutes.  

Local dignitaries, military officials, and students welcomed the large crowd at the bandshell. Col. Richard Jolette, 22 Wing Commander/Canadian Air Defence Sector Commander at CFB North Bay was one of the speakers. He wanted to also recognize the U.S. personnel that also should be celebrated as part of Armed Forces Day in North Bay. 

"It is important because it is unique as we are the only really base in Canada that has a designated unit of US members," said Col. Jolette of North Bay's NORAD facility.  

"There are some other U.S. Air Force and Army across Canada but this is the one base where we have a detachment, really a small family of US military. In North Bay, people see the American license plates and I think it is important we recognize they are part of our community; their families, their kids are in our schools their spouses are our soccer coaches and they are just as big a part of the community as us and I think it is important to recognize that relationship. 

The large celebration is truly welcomed by all local military personnel; Canadian or American.  

"It's fantastic, the last one we had here in person was in 2019 and I was here as the commander of 21 Squadron back here two years later as the wing commander and now to be able to have this event in person it is tremendous," said Col. Jolette.  

"People I think have missed this, they've missed the opportunity to engage with the people of 22 Wing and we have missed the same thing to engage with the community. Looking out at the crowd and seeing all the smiling faces, that is what it is all about."  

The event was still well-received despite the fact the Snowbirds demonstration team announced last night that they cannot participate due to some technical issues. 

See related: Safety concerns ground Snowbirds for Armed Forces Day

See related: SkyHawks parachute team wows locals with tandem jumps 

Al McDonald, North Bay's mayor, was thrilled to see the large crowds celebrating Armed Forces Day. McDonald grew up in a military family with a father who was a CF-101 Voodoo pilot and both his grandparent served in WWII.    

"It is a real sense of pride for our community, when we host the largest Armed Forces Day in the country and I think that speaks to the roots of our unwavering support of the women and men that serve our country in Canada and around the world that protect our liberty, freedoms and keep us safe 24 hours a day," he said. 

The crowd also gathered in hopes of breaking a world record for the largest human maple leaf. Hundreds gathered including many children, to create the maple leaf pattern which was photographed high atop the aerial ladder on a North Bay Fire Truck. 

The theme for this year's event is "It takes a community to work together to succeed, to achieve, and to grow."