Thousands of people celebrate the army | North Bay Gem

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First Armed Forces Day Live since 2019 draws large crowds to North Bay waterfront

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Master Corporal. Kazz Gallant is packing up his parachute when a group of school children suddenly surround him.

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They ask him a few questions about jumping out of planes and life in the military, but it quickly becomes clear why they’re really there.

“Can I have your autograph?”

Gallant smiles and begins writing messages for the children.

“Honestly, it’s one of my favorite parts,” she says. “Seeing all the happy faces, the excitement. It makes me really happy.

Master Corporal.  SkyHawks member Kazz Gallant signs autographs for school children attending Armed Forces Day Wednesday at the North Bay waterfront.  PJ Wilson / The Nugget
Master Corporal. SkyHawks member Kazz Gallant signs autographs for school children attending Armed Forces Day Wednesday at the North Bay waterfront. PJ Wilson / The Nugget

It’s her first year with the SkyHawks, the Canadian Forces parachute team, and she remembers the excitement she felt when she was around their age, watching the SkyHawks perform near her home. her in New Brunswick.

“I love it when they ask questions,” Gallant says, hoping that some of these students might one day follow in his footsteps and strap on a parachute, either as a sport skydiver or even as a member of the SkyHawks themselves.

She’s been in the military for 16 years, serving with 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Edmonton when she’s not jumping out of a plane to thrill thousands of onlookers to celebrate Armed Forces Day North Bay.

Adults and children form in the shape of a giant maple leaf on Wednesday as part of Armed Forces Day, aiming for a world record.  PJ Wilson/The Nugget
Adults and children form in the shape of a giant maple leaf on Wednesday as part of Armed Forces Day, aiming for a world record. PJ Wilson/The Nugget

Several thousand people – mostly schoolchildren from across the district – gathered on the North Bay waterfront to witness the feats of skydiving and have the chance to talk to serving members and veterans of the Canadian military in what is billed as the largest off-base celebration of Armed Forces Day in Canada.

A veteran, Dennis Moore, 92, who served in the Korean War with the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry – the PPCLI – said the outpouring of admiration and support for the military “makes me feel very, very good.”

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Especially when he looks at all the youngsters.

He addresses school groups in November around Remembrance Day, explaining what he has done in his 35 years of service.

“Many already know about wars,” he says. “They are aware of it.”

Don't try this at home.  Two members of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks join forces to descend in front of the crowd on Armed Forces Day on Wednesday.  PJ Wilson/The Nugget
Don’t try this at home. Two members of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks join forces to descend in front of the crowd on Armed Forces Day on Wednesday. PJ Wilson/The Nugget

Moore was not in the regular army when he answered the call to serve in Korea, often called Canada’s forgotten war. He was in Wasaga Beach, “18 or 19 years old and strapped for money” when then-Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent told the radio that Canada was looking for volunteers.

“The cab driver told us about it and told us he was going to enlist,” Moore said.

So he and some friends did the same.

“I’m a proud Canadian,” he says.

He admits he was “a little upset” when the army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy merged to form the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, “but I got over that”.

Wednesday marked the first day of Armed Forces Live in the city since 2019, and Colonel Richard Jolette, commander of 22 Wing/CFB North Bay, admitted he “didn’t know what to expect” with the return to the live celebration.

The event, he said, shows the close relationship between North Bay’s military and civilian communities and gives everyone a chance to engage with the community.

“This is an opportunity to break down barriers, if they exist,” he said.

Members of the public line up for a quick tour from a Chinook helicopter on Wednesday as part of Armed Forces Day celebrations at the North Bay waterfront.  PJ Wilson / The Nugget
Members of the public line up for a quick tour from a Chinook helicopter on Wednesday as part of Armed Forces Day celebrations at the North Bay waterfront. PJ Wilson / The Nugget

The 22 Wing Band provided musical entertainment as students, children and adults flocked to the hall, most dressed in red for the chance to try and break a record by forming the largest sheet of human maple in front of the Kiwanis banner. The target was 4,000 people, although it is not yet known how many people actually attended.

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Jolette was born in North Bay – her father was a member of the Canadian military – and attended school here. And looking at the young people sitting in front of the bandstand, he said, “I was one of those kids.”

There was no Armed Forces Day celebration in his time, and he admits, “I would have loved to have had that experience.”

The day, which included static displays of military vehicles and a large twin-rotor Chinook helicopter, was “a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to the men and women in uniform in person,” said North Bay Mayor Al McDonald.

McDonald’s father and both grandfathers served in the military, and McDonald came here with his family when his father was posted to North Bay.

The only downside of the day was that the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the Air Demonstration Team, had to cancel due to technical issues with their aircraft.

Parker McConnachie, left, and his mother, Amy, watch Lucy Davies, 7, try her hand at a game of beanbag tossing, Wednesday, as part of Armed Forces Day celebrations in North Bay.  PJ Wilson / The Nugget
Parker McConnachie, left, and his mother, Amy, watch Lucy Davies, 7, try her hand at a game of beanbag tossing, Wednesday, as part of Armed Forces Day celebrations in North Bay. PJ Wilson / The Nugget
Kingston Hana, left, tries on a military respirator while Connor Foisy checks the helmet and strap under the watchful eye of Sgt.  Adam Marcil on Wednesday during the Armed Forces Day celebration at the North Bay waterfront.  PJ Wilson/The Nugget
Kingston Hana, left, tries on a military respirator while Connor Foisy checks the helmet and strap under the watchful eye of Sgt. Adam Marcil on Wednesday during the Armed Forces Day celebration at the North Bay waterfront. PJ Wilson/The Nugget
Adults and school children crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks during their performance on the North Bay waterfront as part of Armed Forces Day on Wednesday.  PJ Wilson / The Nugget
Adults and school children crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks during their performance on the North Bay waterfront as part of Armed Forces Day on Wednesday. PJ Wilson / The Nugget
Three members of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks descend on the North Bay waterfront on Wednesday as part of Armed Forces Day.  PJ Wilson/The Nugget
Three members of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks descend on the North Bay waterfront on Wednesday as part of Armed Forces Day. PJ Wilson/The Nugget
A member of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks waves a giant American flag during his jump as part of Armed Forces Day on Wednesday.  PJ Wilson/The Nugget
A member of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks waves a giant American flag during his jump as part of Armed Forces Day on Wednesday. PJ Wilson/The Nugget
22 Wing Commander Col. Richard Jolette and Chief Warrant Officer Debbie Martens address the crowd at Armed Forces Day in North Bay on Wednesday.  PJ Wilson/The Nugget
22 Wing Commander Col. Richard Jolette and Chief Warrant Officer Debbie Martens address the crowd at Armed Forces Day in North Bay on Wednesday. PJ Wilson/The Nugget

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