Thanks to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Clinton Annual Ball is going ahead on May 21, after two years of a scaled-back event to preserve the ball’s status as the longest continuously-running event of its kind in Canada.
Now, says Clinton Ball Committee member John Boscott, all that the organizers have to do is condense seven months’-worth of work into a little over two months.
The committee had originally planned a full ball for this year, and in January requested use of the Clinton Memorial Hall for the event. However, when Clinton council considered the grant-in-aid requests at a meeting in February, Mayor Susan Swan said that the ball was not going ahead.
“We decided to put the ball on hold until Dr. Henry came out to release all the mandates,” explains Boscott. “We weren’t going to put it on if people had to wear a mask, and if we had to check vaccine passports.
“We didn’t want to police people at the door, and alienate anyone who has supported us in the past and who wasn’t vaccinated. And how can you dance with masks on?
“So we had a meeting, and everyone said that as long as the mandates were on we wouldn’t proceed, and we cancelled our requests. If Dr. Henry had come out and said there was no end date to the mandates, it would have stayed off.”
Early in March, however, Boscott says they began hearing rumours that the mandates would be coming to an end. On March 10, Henry announced that mask mandates would be ending for most settings the next day, and that the vaccine passport would be coming to an end in B.C. on April 8.
“We started phoning right away,” says Boscott. “We made a call to everyone on the committee we could get hold of and got their feelings, and the feeling was to proceed.”
The next step was to contact Swan and tell her that the committee wanted use of the Memorial Hall after all. The grant-in-aid request will be on the agenda for the next council meeting, on March 23, and Swan is looking forward to the event, which was first held in 1867.
“They said that they have a band lined up, and that the decorating committee has been ready to go for two years,” says Swan. “They seem to think it’s quite doable.
“I was disappointed when they said it was cancelled, but if they think they can pull it together in time then kudos to them, and I look forward to going.”
Boscott says that despite the tight timeline for this year’s event, the ball has been going on for so long — 2022 marks the 155th such event — there is a set formula in place.
“It’s easy to follow the lead of what’s been done before. It will be the same Clinton Ball, with the same traditions, and people in formal dress or period costume. We’re not changing anything.
“The hardest part will be selecting some of the pictures we’re going to use and blow up and put round the hall for this year’s theme, which is ‘Logging in the Cariboo’.”
He adds that ticket sales should be good, as there has been a lot of interest from people asking for tickets.
“Fifty per cent of the people we get every year have got their name on the list already, so we have to do some phoning to confirm they’re in. We’re getting calls every second day for seven or eight tickets at a crack, and 50 to 60 per cent of the tickets have already been sold as we speak. If you want tickets, don’t dally.”
Tickets for the ball are $75 each, which includes dinner. They can be ordered by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website (www.clintonannualball.com).
Boscott admits there is still a chance that the ball might have to be cancelled again, but is hoping for the best.
“If something else comes down — if another wave raises its head and mandates come back on overnight — we might have to cancel it. It’s still two months down the road, and anything could break through, but we all have our fingers crossed.
“Everyone is hoping, because we all want to put it back on.”