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Hyack Festival Association

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Excellence 0116 copyThe Hyack Festival Association draws inspiration from the past, present and future of the community.  Since being initiated by the City of New Westminster’s Mayor, Muni Evers in 1971, the association produces high quality community events with regional and international appeal. Known for its love of history and traditions, the HFA is constantly evolving with newcomers, and striving to build a bright future that embraces the traditions of yesteryear while growing into the excitement of tomorrow. It’s a careful balancing act but one that its volunteer base is excited to be involved in. Alan Wardle, the association’s president elect for 2016, follows in the footsteps of 2015 president Don Swindells and all those in the past 44 years who have come before them in the effort to continue to build the Hyack legacy. “We’re really looking forward to another year, some changes that will be coming along the way, and doing what we do so well,” said Wardle. “I think we’re iconic in New Westminster in a sense. Many people have grown up with our parade and it has become a real tradition, a kick-off to the spring and to the sunshine. It’s associated for many people with other city traditions such as the May Day event. There’s something about an event that returns every year and people enjoy so much.”  That’s why it’s a favourite tradition. Another one of the community’s long-standing traditions, the Miss New Westminster Pageant, has, under the HFA sponsorship, now been modernized as a youth leadership program dedicated to building future civic leaders.  The Hyack Ambassadors volunteer extensively here at home and represent the Royal City at a variety of local and regional events. The association’s primary event is the annual Hyack International Parade, which draws marching bands, floats, and other organizations from around B.C. and the Pacific Northwest. For 2016, the parade will return to city streets on May 28, and Wardle says that both old favourites, like the antique fair, and some new innovations will be part of the celebrations that weekend. In this day and age, change is a constant for many organizations, but Wardle says that community favourites like the parade have an even more important role to play nowadays. “In this social media age, we have a lot of communication, but we can sometimes lack that personal, eye-toeye, contact with other people in our community,” he said. “The parade is a real bridge for that: residents come out to watch, participate and connect with each other, volunteers work to bring it all together, and many many community organizations participate in the parade, so it’s really the full spectrum of community engagement.” The term Hyack was born, according to legend, from a First Nations word that meant “swift, fast or hurry up” and has come to be associated with New Westminster over the years (sports teams at New Westminster Secondary School are also known as the Hyacks). “It’s one of those unique identifiable things we have here in New Westminster,” said Wardle. “It’s part of our identity really.” That identity goes with the association when they travel to other parades throughout the region. “We get out to at least 20 parades in the course of a year, and we’d love to expand that as well,” he said. “The float that we bring is really a community promotional platform. People recognize our Hyack brand and love to see what we’ve brought each year.”

L Alan Wardle & R Don Swindells_webPHOTO: Left: Alan Wardle, president elect 2016 with Don Swindells, 2015 president