Happy Festivus, for the rest of us! Who could forget that great line from Seinfeld? Although they claimed the sitcom was about nothing I think that there was much to the sentiment above, namely that everyone’s welcome. And, so as we prepare for Vaisakhi this weekend in Surrey, a South Asian religious celebration to mark the birth of Khalsa and the harvest, we also ready for the rest of festival season. That’s right we now have a festival for almost everything and every season, but none more so than during spring and summer. There are a plethora of festivals like the Tulip Festival, Cinco de Mayo, Heritage Festival, Cloverdale Rodeo, Mariachi, Salmon Fest, Folk Music Festival, Jazz, Blues, Surrey Reggae Festival, enRoute Film Fest, World Music Festival at Locarno — you get the idea, on and on the list goes. There’s a festival for one and a festival for all. Like anything else, it is recommended that you have a plan, especially for the big outdoor venues. We get some great advice from Surrey RCMP; Our local Vaisakhi Day Parade is one of the largest Vaisakhi celebrations in the world outside of India. The parade is a major attraction for the city, drawing visitors from across the Lower Mainland. Last year, more than 500,000 people participated. Surrey RCMP will be on site not only for public safety and traffic control but also to take part in all the festivities the event has to offer. With the large crowds, it can be easy for people to become separated from their group. During previous Vaisakhi celebrations, the Surrey RCMP has responded to dozens of incidents of missing children or elderly persons. Having a plan in place with your family prior to the event can greatly reduce your risk of separation. Review with your family what to do if, in fact, this does occur. A plan may include these simple tips: Familiarize your family members with their surroundings and have a pre-planned meeting place:

  • Equip your family members with some form of identification and your contact information
  • Make sure everyone in your party is aware of the location of the Surrey RCMP missing person’s tent and the location of emergency personnel
  • Keep a current photo of your child on you in case you need to describe them to police
  • Keep your children within eyesight at all times

Wherever you find yourself taking in the sights and sounds this festival season, plan ahead and enjoy the rich diversity of our community and beyond.

Ian Power