There will be no Remembrance Day ceremonies in Clinton this year, but the Ashcroft Legion is going ahead with its traditional breakfast, followed by a scaled-back ceremony at the nearby cenotaph.
Both communities, however, are holding poppy sales as usual, and the hope is that even if people cannot gather for a traditional service, they will still purchase a poppy and take time on Nov. 11 to remember.
“There won’t be a ceremony in Clinton this year,” says Lois Thompson, Clinton’s Poppy Fund chairperson. “Our cenotaph is in the Memorial Hall, which can only hold 50 people [because of COVID-19 protocols], and we usually get 200 people.”
She adds that the poppy campaign is taking place, and that trays of poppies are now out around town, along with wreaths in local businesses.
“That part hasn’t changed,” says Thompson. “It’s just that anything held indoors can’t take place.
“The trays will be in the usual places around Clinton, and we’ve been delivering them to 70 Mile, to the general store, the post office, the Sugar Shack, 70 Mile Hotel, and 70 Mile Restaurant.
“A lot of people will be wearing a poppy, and we hope they can stand outside their front doors for two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, as a way to show honour to our fallen veterans.”
The annual poppy campaign is also underway in Ashcroft and Cache Creek through Nov. 10, says Ashcroft Legion president Darrin Curran.
“Trays are in the usual places, and volunteers selling poppies will be out in force respecting COVID-19 rules. They’ll all be wearing masks and gloves.” Curran says that instead of people reaching into the tray to select a poppy, volunteers will place a poppy on the table for people to pick up, in order to reduce hand-to-hand contact.
There is no charge for the poppies, which are by donation.
“We understand that it’s been a tough year for many people, but we appreciate any donations people can give to help our veterans,” says Curran.
The Ashcroft Legion will be holding its usual breakfast, served between 8:30 and 10 a.m. Usually the breakfast — which costs $7 per person — is buffet-style and people are seated downstairs, but this year breakfast will be served up by volunteers.
“That way lots of people aren’t touching the serving spoons, etc.,” says Curran. He adds that because the Legion can accommodate people both upstairs and downstairs, they’ll be opening both parts of the building for breakfast to allow for physical distancing.
Breakfast will be followed by a ceremony at the Ashcroft cenotaph, and Curran says that while it will be pretty much the same format as in past years, people will notice a few changes.
“There won’t be a parade around the block this year, and the placing of wreaths will take place before the ceremony starts, so people aren’t walking past each other and the honour guard to place them. For those who purchase a wreath, we will have it there beforehand and place it for them.
“The actual ceremony will be pretty much the same in terms of the program, and this year a local women’s choir will be singing a song as well. We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible.”
Because there will be no wreaths on the table by the entrance, there will be room for seating on both sides, to allow for the chairs to be spaced apart. Curran says that while they recognize the need to keep numbers lower than usual, they still want people to be there. “It’s a fine line.”
He says that anyone who attends the ceremony should wear a mask if they are able to, and observe physical distancing. However, he adds that the HUB Online Network will be livestreaming the event. “It means that some of our more vulnerable citizens won’t have to come out; they can watch it online.”
The Legion will be open after the cenotaph service as usual. However, due to the limitation on how many people can be in there at once, the executive is still discussing exactly what that will look like.
For updates about everything that is happening at the Ashcroft Legion, including special events, Friday night dinners, meat draws, and more, check their Facebook page at Legion Branch 113 Ashcroft.