A beach party for old St. Vitalers
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/08/2022 (309 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A lot of people who grew up in St. Vital still live in the area, and many others maintain a strong connection. That was very evident at a reunion, of sorts, for those who grew up in St. Vital on the beach at Gimli on July 13.
Why Gimli, one might reasonably ask, and not St. Vital Park? Well, the organizers of the event happen to live in Gimli. Randy and Darlene (nee Olson) Bohemier, Jaye Feener (nee English) and Bill Buckels were the driving forces behind the party .Besides, Gimli is a lovely Manitoba town — and we were on a beach.
Word was spread through social media including the Facebook pages for local St. Vital schools. More than 60 people attended throughout the day. There would have been more, but the date was moved from July 1,2 owing to the threat of rain. I know others who were then unable to attend.
Some had attended Dakota Collegiate but there were many who attended Glenlawn and other St. Vital schools. With the date change, I was asked to transport someone I consider St. Vital royalty — former Dakota biology teacher and coach, Jerry Ilchyna. He and his humour played centre stage on the beach.
While these events can be a bit awkward at the beginning, the relaxed atmosphere allowed for people to easily connect with some old faces and meet some new people. If you grew up in St. Vital, there is bound to be a connection with others who did as well — a school, a business, an event…
I met former students from my era, people connected to the St. Vital Museum, and new people who had their own memories and stories to share. And the stories were very entertaining.
Sandi Gordon was one old friend who attended. Her family lived on the next street to mine, we shared a back lane and she used to feed our childhood dog, Lucky, when our beloved beagle made her rounds. That was back when dogs freely roamed the streets.
Leslie Rupp (nee Henry), a friend and classmate I had not seen in decades, travelled from B.C. for the event. Others were in from out of town as well. She ended up becoming the unofficial photographer of the event.
“For me it was iconic,” Leslie said. “Seeing people after 50 years was truly special. Good thing everyone had name tags! The 50 years just melted away. How lucky we were to have grown up in St Vital!”
I could not have said it better myself. I am unsure if there will be another such party but I would consider attending if there is.
I cherish my connection to St. Vital and find myself driving past some homes, schools and businesses that hold a special place in my mind. I find it very comforting.
Community Correspondent — St. Vital
John Hindle is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email him at email@example.com