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Royal Canadian Air Force centennial events set for May 22 to 24 in Cold Lake

Cold Lake is gearing up for a series of events to celebrate the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF)100th anniversary centennial featuring an open house, a traditional parade, and a fun run. 

COLD LAKE - Cold Lake is gearing up for a series of events to celebrate the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF)100th anniversary centennial featuring an open house, a traditional parade, and a fun run. 

The festivities kick off with an Open House at the Medley Terminal on the military base on May 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

Major Karl Braschuk, leader of 4 Wing’s RCAF Centennial events, highlighted the extensive planning that has taken place, saying, “Preparations are going excellent. Preparations are complete for the most part. There's a few fine details, but all in all, we're ready.” 

Visitors can expect to see a wide array of aircraft, helicopters, and other military equipment during the open house.  

“Over 40 different displays will be available to walk around and visit,” Braschuk explained. “The primary importance for the open house is to engage the military community and all the defense team employees, civilian and military that work on the base with the regional population.” 

Activities will include hands-on experiences such as trying out firefighting gear and painting aircraft.  

Braschuk added, “It’s quite unique, some of the equipment we use, including the firefighters... because of what they deal with at an airport. There will be an opportunity to try out some of the painting capabilities... Some interactive, some hands-on, and a lot of understanding of what we do. And there will be some fighter jets there that they can get close to and take a look in the cockpit.” 

The open house will host over 2,000 students from area schools. There will also be a free lunch offered to all who attend. 

Freedom of the City 

On May 23, the Freedom of the City parade will take place at City Hall in the morning.  

This traditional ceremony symbolizes the bond between the military and the local community. 

“Freedom of the City occurs between the military community, the military presence in a community, and the community itself. It forms a bond and an agreement between an armed force and the civilian population,” explained Braschuk. “We've done this Freedom of the City before in Cold Lake. Ten years ago, and then 20 years ago on our anniversary dates. It's happened before, and this is a reaffirmation of the Freedom of the City.” 

The parade will feature hundreds of military personnel marching in full dress uniform, led by the wing commander.  

“The military will march to City Hall, there'll be a knock on the door, someone from City Hall, most likely the mayor, will answer the call and there'll be a discussion and then the parade will proceed into the community.”  

The parade will proceed through the downtown area. 

“There will be a ceremony that will occur there. It will be a short, small ceremony and then march back towards City Hall and that will be the end of the parade. It will be... a couple of hundred military personnel marching. They will be marching with weapons and bayonets. And their blue uniforms with white gloves and white belts...The wing commander will be leading the parade, and there'll be other commanders within the parade.” 

RCAF Fun Run & Wellness Walk 

The celebrations will conclude on May 24 with the RCAF Fun Run and Wellness Walk, starting at Medley Terminal, and taking place from 8:30 a.m to 10:30 a.m. 

Braschuk emphasized the event's focus on fitness and community engagement.  

“The purpose of the RCAF Run is to promote fitness and awareness of the RCAF as well. The reason for the fun run is because we're encouraging not just military members to participate, but the community as well. Wellness walk occurs every year.” 

Participants will enjoy a unique experience running or walking on the flight line, with views of military vehicles and aircraft.  

“And at the end of the event, they'll receive what's called a breakfast bag... courtesy of the 4 Wing Food Services. 

Air Show in July 

Following the centennial events, preparations will continue for the Cold Lake Air Show, set for July 20 and 21 

“The Air Show is coming quite well. It's going to be probably one of the biggest air shows Cold Lake has ever seen,” says Braschuk. “So it's going to be an exciting event to see. Ticket sales have been fantastic. You can purchase tickets right up until the day of the event, right at the gate... It's open to everybody. We already know there's people coming from a great distance.” 

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Chantel Downes is a graduate of The King's University, with a passion for writing and storytelling. Originally from Edmonton, she received her degree in English and has a minor in communications.
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