By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times
“Because it’s the Langley thing to do,” hundreds of friends, neighbours, co-workers, students, and families will congregate at Aldergrove Community Park on Sunday, May 5, to enjoy some festivities before heading out on the 57th annual Langley Walk.
Walk veteran Monica Newman expressed the basic reason for the annual event when she crossed the finish line again after 41 years of participating.
Corinna Brink celebrated her birthday and her 26th participation at last year’s walk, noting that one of the few she missed in all her 33 years was the one when she “was being born.”
There are probably as many stories and traditions around the Langley Walk as there have been walkers since Langley Recreation Commission director Pete Swensson organized the first one in 1963.
Like this year’s Langley Walk, that first one started in Aldergrove – but unlike this one, which will loop back to the beginning after 5 km or 10 km route choices, the 1963 Langley Walk finished in Langley City, after a 22-mile (35.4 km) hike through Fort Langley.
The goals have changed a bit, too, said Stephanie Eby, a Township of Langley recreation programmer and one of the organizers of Sunday’s event.
The first walk, said Eby, was about “getting people moving, now we still like that goal, but we emphasize families. We want the whole experience to be a fun family event.”
To that end, the walk begins with entertainment, a pre-walk warm-up, and activities such as face painting, games, and bouncy castles, and participants can choose to walk, run, or bike five or ten kilometre routes that can accommodate strollers, wheelchairs, and rollerbladers, and even dogs on leashes are welcome.
Another goal of the annual walk is to “highlight a community that has something new or that hasn’t been part of the walk for a while,” Eby explained.
The Langley Walk alternates on a four-year cycle between the City and Township of Langley, with the Township hosting three years at a time. Next year’s walk will be in the City.
This year, organizers wanted to help introduce the new Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre.
They would have liked to have started and finished there, but organizing the walk is “a lot of work,” and with planning having begun last November, the committee couldn’t be sure if the ACUCC would be ready to handle the event, “So we’re walking by,” said Eby.
The ACUCC is one of many highlights of the walk through Aldergrove’s streets and parks.
Entertainment and registration begins at noon, and participants who would like to do the 10 km route will head off at 1:15 p.m. Those doing the five km route will officially start at 1:30 p.m.
All those who finish the walk will receive a crest, and everyone who takes part is eligible to win draw prizes.
Trophies and prizes will be awarded to the oldest walker, as well as to the most walkers from an organization, family, and elementary, middle, or high school.
After the walk, there are free snacks, more activities, and entertainment.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles.
The event is free for all ages. It starts and ends at Aldergrove Athletic Park, 26770 – 29th Ave. It will go ahead, rain or shine.
Eby gave a shout out to the large team of fellow organizers, including special events manager Lisa Egan, ACUCC superintendent Nikole Longhi, and parks coordinator Scott Johnson.
She said that, in recent years, participation has dipped to 500 “when it’s really cold and raining,” but comes in at 1,500 or more in better weather.
In its first decade, the Langley Walk commonly drew upwards of 4,000 participants.