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Squamish to celebrate first Garibaldi Day

On July 4 the people of Squamish will celebrate the naming of Mount Garibaldi as well as the birthday of its namesake, Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi.

According to Jan Durocher, Garibaldi Day Committee member, the idea to celebrate Garibaldi Day came after the mayor of Squamish was invited to Italy to see a number of artifacts relating to Garibaldi’s life. The District of Squamish is now returning the favour by inviting representatives of the city of Catalafemi, Sicily, as well as representatives from the Italian Consulate in Vancouver to attend the festivities.

Also known as "the father of modern Italy," Giuseppe Garibaldi devoted his life to the cause of Italian unity. Born in 1807, he is best known for leading his army of 1,000 Red Shirts on a march to liberate Sicily and later Naples, thus hastening the pace of unification.

Garibaldi lived in Italy, South America, North Africa, and the United States, and was known as the "Hero of Two Worlds" for his part in fighting for freedom in both Europe and the Americas. By the 1860s, Garibaldi’s name was known on both sides of the Atlantic as synonymous with the struggle for liberty.

At the same time Garibaldi was marching on Sicily and Naples, British naval officer G.H. Richards sailed into Howe Sound. The story goes that an Italian sailor aboard Richards’ ship named Mount Garibaldi when the mountain came into view on Garibaldi’s birthday, July 4, 1860. The volcano that now bears Garibaldi’s name looms over the town of Squamish and is the dominant landscape feature of the Howe Sound-Whistler corridor.

A full weekend of events has been planned for the first celebration of Garibaldi Day.

On Saturday, July 3, at 7:30 p.m. the District of Squamish will host a special presentation at the Squamish Public Library of historic artifacts pertaining to Giuseppe Garibaldi’s life. The artifacts are being brought over from Italy especially for this occasion and will be displayed at the library for the weekend. There will also be a screening of an Italian short film and a brief talk about Garibaldi’s life and accomplishments.

At noon on Sunday, July 4 there will be a formal re-dedication of the Garibaldi Monument at Watts Point (3 miles south of Squamish).

The celebration will culminate in the Garibaldi Day Picnic at Stan Clarke Park from 1 to 5 p.m. (by the Squamish Chamber of Commerce office on Cleveland Avenue).

The picnic will feature performing artists on the main stage and a bocce tournament sponsored by Canadian Tire from 2:30 to 4:15 p.m. The first people to sign up are eligible to win prizes. The picnic will also involve children’s activities put on by Camp Summit and Wine Tasting from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

"We hope to get a lot of people out for all the events and for a great community picnic," Durocher commented.

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