Ucluelet’s harbour is a flurry of activity this week as local boaters prepare for a night of marine merriment at Dec. 14’s Sail Past vessel parade.
The unique and illuminated nautical show kicks off at 7 p.m. and locals are encouraged to gather at the Whiskey Dock where refreshments and good tidings will be served up as impressive oceanic displays sail past.
The dock will also be where spectators vote to determine which vessel sails away with the coveted ‘Best Decorated Boat’ award.
Anyone interested in adding their boat to the mix must sign up by Dec. 9 by contacting the Ucluelet chamber of commerce at 250-726-4641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equipped with a real Christmas tree and an air-filled display depicting Santa Claus landing on the roof in a helicopter, the Ucluelet RCMP’s Auxiliary Spirit was voted last year’s champion.
The RCMP’s Sail Past team captain Const. Marcel Midlane said local police would “absolutely” be defending their crown this year.
“It’s not something that takes just an hour. It takes a couple of days,” he said of the RCMP’s decorating efforts. “I’ll have to think of something new and exciting to add to the boat to make it ‘wow’ the crowd this year.”
Midlane said he loves participating in the festivities and that community events like the Sail Past offer valuable opportunities for police to engage with their community.
“It goes a long way with building relationships in the community. It shows people that we work here but we also live here as well,” he said. “It reinforces the fact that we’re all out here trying to build a better community and a more safe atmosphere in the community and helps out by letting people know we’re approachable; were part of the community.”
He added the Sail Past event coaxes locals out of their homes and into their community’s holiday cheer despite the dark weather.
“It’s a great way to get people out for the holiday season. It’s a lot of fun for families and it shows community spirit,” he said.
“It’s a good feeling to know people are out there supporting the event and it’s a great event because not every community does something like this and the turnout in Ucluelet is amazing. It’s a great way to bring people together and get into the Christmas spirit.”
The seven-metre Auxiliary Spirit is named in honour of Ucluelet’s past and current volunteer constables and, when it’s not dolled up to wow Christmas crowds, it patrols Barkley Sound.
“It’s named after our dedicated auxiliary members that volunteer their time and their efforts to make the community policing aspect that much more prevalent,” Midlane said.
“They dedicate themselves to that out of the goodness of their hearts.”