Whistler's Canada Day fun tinged with sadness 

Muni hall flags at half-mast to honour Arizona firefighters

click to enlarge ALISON TAYLOR - Whistler firefighters pull their vintage firetruck through the village, an annual tradition in recent years.
  • Alison Taylor
  • Whistler firefighters pull their vintage firetruck through the village, an annual tradition in recent years.

Amid the throngs of smiling tourists and locals waving red and white flags, there was a sombre undertone to the Canada Day celebrations in Whistler this year.

Flags at municipal hall were at half-mast for the 19 firefighters who lost their lives fighting wildfires in Arizona on Sunday.

Meanwhile, members of the Whistler Minor Hockey Association walked together through the parade route and those with white jerseys had black electrical tape around their forearms. It was a sign of respect and solidarity for the Rozsypalek family, said the association's president Steve Legge.

Rudy Rozsypalek died on Saturday after a mid-air collision between a powered glider and a Cessna airplane.

"The family were members of the Whistler Minor Hockey Association (at one time)," said Legge after the parade.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was also thinking about the flood victims in Alberta.

She said she would be encouraging her community to make a donation to the Red Cross, and specifically to Canmore, a mountain community like Whistler, in her annual Canada Day address at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Still, despite the sad undertone, there was fun and smiles and sweltering children as temperatures climbed over 30 degrees.

"I think there's even more people here than there were last year," said the mayor.

"This may be the biggest ever!"

For the Waser family from Surrey it was fun to watch.

Natalie Waser, her husband and three children ages 9-16, decided to come to Whistler at the last minute on Sunday to stay overnight and make the most of the beautiful long weekend weather.

"It was great," said Waser from the sidelines of the parade. "A lot of spirited folks there!"

They are planning on taking a zip-line tour before they return home today.

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