Like many, Joshua Carson was amazed standing near the waterfront by the marina watching the Snowbirds demonstration team fly under the beautiful mix of sun and cloud over Lake Nipissing.
The 12-year-old is a member of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and he was thrilled to be at the Armed Forces Day celebrations on the North Bay waterfront today.
“It is just so amazing that everybody is here supporting the Canadian Armed Forces and all those who were deployed and I feel very proud to be in uniform,” said Carson, who is a Leading Seaman with the local Cadets.
The weather cooperated and people came out in droves as the Skyhawks demonstration team did some amazing aerial tricks before the members landed on Marathon Beach. The world famous Snowbirds followed that up with their amazing aerial acrobatics during the noon hour.
Mayor Al McDonald stated today’s event is the biggest yet locally and boasts that North Bay hosts the largest Armed Forces Day celebrations in the country.
“It just goes to show the appreciation the citizens of North Bay have for the women and men of our armed forces and it is a wonderful spectacle to see people come out and support them,” said McDonald, whose father was in the Air Force.
Colonel Mark Roberts agrees this is the biggest one yet. He says today is a special day for military personnel in North Bay.
“I think when you are just walking around the fairgrounds today just everyone you walk past, they take special notice of you, they take time to say ‘thank you for your service have a nice day,’” said Roberts.
“They notice you and they go out of their way to thank you and that really means a lot.”
US detachment commander Rye Whitehead echoes Roberts’ sentiments. He points out that the 22 Wing is the only Canadian base with a US detachment.
“It is the only Wing in all of Canada that has that special relationship and it works fantastic and we are focused on that homeland defence mission where we are defending both of our great countries through innovative approaches to make sure that everybody is protected,” said Whitehead.
For Whitehead, this will be his last Armed Forces Day in North Bay as he will be moving to another role with the U.S. Air Force in Stuttgart, Germany. The Missoula, Montana native says he will always remember North Bay’s Armed Forces Day celebrations.
“When you look out and see all the red and white and people cheering on, it is so neat to see that pride in Canada and it is so inspirational and it is so good for all the children to be able to be part of this and watch the Skyhawks jump out of planes and seeing the Snowbirds fly. It’s inspirational to see that patriotic pride we are seeing today,” he said.
Roberts is also leaving for another post in Ottawa later this summer. He says North Bay treats the military well not just on Armed Forces Day.
“You are having a meal with your family at Montana’s, and you go to pay and the lady says someone else has taken care of that, or even someone else took care of your coffee when you are waiting to pay,” said Col Roberts.