By Leslie Norman/Special to The News
Pitt Meadows Day has been a treasured community event since 1937, when the first celebration took place and was actually a Pitt Meadows May Day.
In 1938 the name was changed to the Miss Pitt Meadows Day and Strawberry Festival, and it continued under a similar banner for a decade with Reta Kvass the 1947 queen.
The following year, 1948, late May and early June brought disaster to the area when spring freshets caused massive flooding throughout the Fraser Valley, including the lowland areas of Pitt Meadows.
Where possible, lowland farmers and their livestock were moved to higher land and all residents were called upon to assist with flood efforts – everything from sandbagging on the front lines at the Fraser, Pitt, Alouette Rivers and the sloughs to sandwich making and providing comfort at the community hall on Harris Road.
Round the clock vigilance brought the community through the calamity, but needless to say, no one had the time or energy to put together a Pitt Meadows Day celebration.
That would mean no new queen, leaving Reta with the title for 1948 and for a few more years.
In 1949, it was also a high-water year – but without widespread flooding, yet there was still no will to bring back a spring community event and this same malaise lasted through 1951.
That same year, in May, the community’s now longest running service club, the Pitt Meadows Lions, had just formed, and within a year they had reactivated the spring event under a new name, Pitt Meadows Day.
It would now become a set June event with the first Saturday of the month scheduled for the parade and other activities.
It had been five years since Reta had been crowned queen, and now she returned as a young woman to the royal party as the past queen, and helped place the crown on the 1952 (Marlene Wickson) queen’s head.
Since 1952, Pitt Meadows Day has run unbroken, all through the efforts of community volunteers and with the support of the municipality – the district, the joint services department, the city.
In 2020, due to a new disaster that has consumed the entire world, we will not have a community wide Pitt Meadows Day, the first one missed in 68 years.
As summer approaches, we seem to be in a good position in this province and this community, and this bodes well for a return of the event in 2021.
Fingers crossed we will not be waiting five years to start celebrating again.
– Leslie Norman is curator of Pitt Meadows Museum and Archives
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