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Wet weather no deterrent for "living flag" participants

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Video by Dan Harper Photo

The rain and weather are keeping many people at home on Canada Day, as Winnipeg endures one of the last days of wet and windy weather that ravaged the city over the weekend.

Though the city has no shortage of things to do – with festivals at The Forks, Osborne Street, Assiniboine Park, St. Boniface and more – events were mostly empty in the early afternoon today, with only a few people braving the rain in each location.

The only event that had a relatively strong showing was the annual Living Flag event at the Forks on Tuesday morning.

The event, put on by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, put together 2,500 people wearing red and white in an attempt to form Canada’s biggest "living" Canadian flag. Other cities, including Brandon and Victoria, B.C., compete with Winnipeg each year for the biggest flag. An aerial photograph of Winnipeg's 2013 flag made it onto a Canadian postage stamp.

In previous years Winnipeggers gathered for the event by the Manitoba legislature, but this year the venue was changed to be closer to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, said Downtown BIZ events and sponsorship manager Scott Stewart.

"The legislature has been a great site. It’s a gorgeous site. But after three years we felt like we had that photo," Stewart said.

Those new to Canada made up a significant portion of today's flag. Immigrants from all over the world, some celebrating Canada Day for the first time, took it as a chance to do something they considered truly Canadian.

Gladelee Salarzon moved with her family to Canada from the Philippines on June 10. She said she wanted to show the children how Canada celebrates itself.

"We want the kids to experience the holiday. It’s important for them to know how Canada celebrates," Salarzon said.

Another newcomer, Anne-Florence L’Écolier, from France, described her experience of Canada so far: everything is bigger, including people’s hearts. Today, she said, she wanted to be a part of the country.

"I think it’s important. If I want to be a part of Canada, I have to be a part of this," she said.

Other Canada Day events

It's that fleeting time of year again when bashful Canadians shower the motherland with some true patriot love. Although this year it looks as if Winnipeggers will be the ones getting rained on.

Environment Canada predicts a 40 per cent chance of showers in the city Tuesday and a meagre 15 C is the expected high. So don't forget to pack an umbrella if you venture out for a Canada Day stroll. Or stay dry by skipping the city and seeing what's up in small-town Manitoba.

Many will likely soak up their stat holiday on a couch/barstool/bed of nails wherever the World Cup might be streaming.

Here are a few things to do to celebrate Canada Day, if you are feeling festive and waterproof.

Manitoba Live at The Forks

THE Forks always has a little something for everyone. There's mucho green space and a playground area prime for a family picnic.

There's also a long list of talented musicians lined up to play The Forks' three stages this year, all of them Manitoban. The tag-team finale performance by Del Barber and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at 10:40 p.m. is sure to be a highlight. Plus the world-class fireworks show at 11 p.m. never disappoints.

Osborne BIZ Street Fest

WITH a cacophony of characters and vendors rubbing elbows in this vacuum-sealed strip of the Village, you're bound to see someone you know at the Osborne Street Fest. You're probably also bound to meet someone you wish you hadn't. Regardless, if you're looking for beer gardens on Canada Day, Osborne Village is the place to be. Newly branded Nuburger (formerly Unburger) boasts a stellar patio party and Music Trader's makeshift stage usually has the weirdest (i.e. most fun) musicians.

Canad Day at Assiniboine Park

NO, that's not a typo. "Canad Day" is, in fact, a shameless plug by event sponsor, Canad Inns. But that doesn't discredit Assiniboine Park's entertaining lineup for Tuesday. There's the quintessential Canadian citizenship ceremony at 2:30 p.m. and daytime concerts starting at 1 p.m. by hometown favourites Leanne Pearson, Trio Bembe and Sierra Noble, among others. The main draw will be Can-rock outfit, the Trews, who grace the Lyric Stage at 9:10 p.m. before the fireworks erupt at 10:40 p.m. Come early if you want to rent some good real estate by the stage; space fills up quickly in the park, though you might luck out if things turn predictably soggy.

National parks and historic sites

TAKE a tour of days gone by at one of Parks Canada's national historic sites, all of which are free to visit on July 1. Lower Fort Garry and Riel House are among the long list of legendary parks. Kids' crafts, face painting and cake are available at every park and historic site, and a tavern is staked out at Lower Fort Garry -- just saying.

St. Boniface celebrations

THE French quarter of town boasts a historic park, Fort Gibraltar, among many new- and old-world attractions. Le musée de Saint-Boniface has an extensive collection of French-Canadian and Métis artifacts on display, while Promenade Café and Wine on Tache Avenue offers delicious French cuisine and one of the best views of The Forks' fireworks.

Outdoorsy adventures

FORTWHYTE Alive and Oak Hammock Marsh are both hosting some fresh-air festivities that are worth visiting despite the almost certain mosquito blood loss they require. FortWhyte is offering dip-netting lessons, guided hikes and free bannock. Delish. While Oak Hammock Marsh has horse-drawn wagon rides, free crafts, face painting and cupcakes.

St. Norbert

VENTURE south and you'll find a hub of activity in St. Norbert, including a special Tuesday edition of the farmers market starting at 4 p.m. Local reggae act RasTamils hits the stage at 9:30 p.m. and the Métis Infinity Square Dancers are on tap before then at 4:30 p.m. There will be fireworks, there will be cake, and there will be pony rides -- three elements that should really be included in every party.

jessica.botelho-urbanski@freepress.mb.ca

Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

Nestled in the greenery of the Forks and with the city skyline as a backdrop, a human flag is formed despite the weather at the Forks Tuesday.

History

Updated on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM CDT: Corrects typo in headline.

12:10 PM: Adds slideshow

1:02 PM: Adds other Canada Day events

1:40 PM: Updates photo, number of participants.

2:42 PM: Updates flag information.

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