Things are looking up for White Rock today – or, at least, it’ll be worth looking up in White Rock this afternoon, specifically starting around the 3:15 p.m. mark.
That’s when the Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds will return to the skies over Semiahmoo Bay with a brief salute for the city, as part of Operation Inspiration, the cross-country tour that was created last year as a way of inspiring hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scott Harrold, co-ordinator of the Snowbirds Fly for CH.I.L.D events, said Friday morning (July 16) that today’s display will play out over the White Rock Pier after the ‘birds do their rounds over several other Lower Mainland communities.
The visit is part of a cross-country tour to raise money and awareness for the CH.I.L.D. Foundation, which funds research for children suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and liver disorders.
Taking off from Vancouver International Airport at approximately 2:45 p.m., they’ll fly over English Bay, False Creek and the Pitt Meadows area , then zip towards Langley and South Surrey – being sure to include numerous hospitals on their flight path – before “whipping around” to White Rock.
“We’re actually going to be lining up right on the pier,” Harrold, a White Rock resident, said.
“We’re probably going to be doing one pass at that point, and we’re definitely going to be doing a manoeuvre… a maple-leaf burst.”
The window to see it all play out is small – it’s scheduled to happen sometime between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m. – but it will be worth it, Harrold said.
In past years, the Snowbirds’ visits to White Rock have drawn tens of thousands of people to gather along the city’s waterfront and hillsides to take in an aerobatic performance of approximately 45 minutes. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, the show cannot go on to the same degree.
“We’re hoping that local residents have an opportunity to enjoy it… (but) we have to continue to respect the public health orders – that’s really the message that we want to deliver,” White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker said last week.
Harrold described the visit as a salute to White Rock, the CH.I.L.D. Foundation and the city.
“There will be a bit of emotion, to say the least,” he added, referring to the tragedy last year that prompted cancellation of the Operation Inspiration tour – the death of Royal Canadian Air Force public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey.
Harrold said he spoke to Casey the day before the May 2020 crash.
“We were talking about White Rock,” he said.
Her death “just echoed through the entire team, I think almost through the entire country,” he continued.
“Like anybody, Jenn would want us to continue this. She’s definitely shining a light on this.”
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