Fraser Valley Family Day has grown so much, that the Langley Events Centre field house is no longer big enough to hold all the activities offered and all the people expected to attend.
Consequently this year, in partnership with LEC and the Vancouver Giants, Family Day organizers are taking it up a notch – or five.
They’re taking over the main LEC arena – complete with the ice, the banquet hall, and the concourse – and growing the show exponentially, said founder Dana Matheson.
“It’s going to be bigger and better than ever,” he said.
The move to Monday (the actual Family Day stat), the relocation to the main arena, the addition of an hour-and-a-half public skate, plus more exhibits, more athletes, more businesses, more interactive booths, will – he holds little doubt – bring many more people.
His conservative estimate, more than 5,000 will likely come through in the course of the six hours.
From the onset, this event has aimed to engage people with local sports groups, such as football, baseball and hockey as well as other general health and wellness initiatives in and around Langley.
For Matheson, a jock and sports supporter in his own right, incorporating a number of sports organizations and activities was a natural fit with families.
“It seemed like a natural,” he said, when partnering with the Giants this year.
The addition of the free skate from 10 to 11:30 a.m., is one obvious expansion on that theme, he said.
Plus, the Giants will be on the ice practising and hosting a skills competition from noon to 1 p.m., followed by an autographing session upstairs afterwards. And members of the Vancouver Stealth lacrosse team and the Langley Rams Football Club will be present.
The event will also feature the firefighter smoke room to teach about safety, facepainters, clowns, a toddler zone, bouncy castles, and more than 25 vendors set up around the concourse.
Growing and expanding
Four years ago, after the advent of Family Day in B.C., Matheson, his family, and his team at C&D Logistics, wanted to hold a special event for families in the community.
Finding a large enough facility proved a bit of a challenge though. Ultimately the event was introduced and became a fixture in LEC field house, complete with games, crafts, and activities for families.
The first time out, they had about 1,500 people attend, and raised $11,000 for charity. Year two, there were about 3,000 people and $15,000 raised for charity. And last year, there were more than 4,500 people in attendance, and the event generated more than $24,000 divvied up between three charities: Township of Langley Firefighters Charities, Basics for Babies, and the Washington Kids Foundation – which ensures under-privileged kids can participate in sports.
“This event is great for everyone, toddlers right on up to adults,” Matheson said.
“Kids have a blast. There’s just so much going on, and no one will be disappointed,” he assured newcomers.
“It’s a celebration of community, of family, and of local businesses and organization showing off what’s available,” Matheson added.
The Fraser Valley Family Day festivities occur at Langley Events Centre, in the main arena (Gate 3) at 7888 200th St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted, Matheson added, explaining that 100 per cent of everything raised is divided between the three charities.
“It’s for everyone… I really want to encourage people to come out. Don’t let money be an obstacle,” he said.
“If they can’t afford it, they can throw in a nickel. And if they can afford it, they can throw in more. We don’t want people to miss out… It’s really about coming together and celebrating family.”
In addition to the Fraser Valley Family Day festivities happening at the Langley Events Centre, there are at least three other places in Langley where this newest holiday is being marked.
FORT LANGLEY NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE: This fort is hosting three days of fun specifically geared to Family Day, from Feb. 10 to 12.
Their efforts will be focused on teaching guests to the historic site about the families who once operated the fort. The families varied in backgrounds from Scottish and Hawaiian, to First Nations and Metis, and the demonstrations offered this weekend are intended to embrace their different cultures.
They’ll present First Nations resources, make Scottish bannock, and challenge people to play ‘Ulu Maika – a game meant to train Hawaiian warriors. Regular admission prices apply and youth are free throughout 2018.
FLIGHT MUSEUM: The Canadian Museum of Flight at 5333 216th St. will be holding a Family Day celebration on Monday, complete with picture taking and candy.
“Have your photo taken in a real Canadian Snowbird and RCAF Starfighter jet,” said Carla Deminchuk. “It has been extremely popular.”
There will also be a kids’ craft table featuring airplane-themed Valentine’s cards, tours of the museum, and a “really, really big candy bowl.”
Admission is by donation, and the festivities run 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There will also be cookies ’n’ cream hot chocolate for sale.
LANGLEY CITY: The City is hosting a free celebration at Timms Community Centre (20399 Douglas Cres.), also on Monday, Feb. 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
It will feature “family fun” in the gymnasium, including games and activities for all ages, plus crafts, bouncy castles and slides, facepainting, balloon twisting, and a parent and tot play zone.
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