Rain-soaked maypole dancers put on a determined performance at the close of the 97th annual May Day parade in Fort Langley. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

VIDEO: A damp May Day parade in Fort Langley

Despite poor weather, thousands attended 97th annual procession

It was a wet May Day parade in Fort Langley.

It got underway beneath grey skies and a light drizzle, and ended with a downpour that drenched performers and audience members at the maypole dance.

At the traditional morning breakfast put on by the Fort Langley Lions, there were only a few occasional sprinkles.

Jack Debad was flipping pancakes with practised ease underneath a sheltering awning outside the Lions clubhouse at Glover Road and 88 Avenue.

Debad estimated he’s been cooking at the May Day breakfast for about 20 years.

“That’s a lot of pancakes,” he said.

For the 97th annual parade, Jim Mair, the president of the B.C,. Farm Museum Association, was piloting a 1902 Case tractor.

Mair said the antique tractor hadn’t been out of the museum since 2002, thanks to a broken boiler that can’t generate steam.

For the Monday parade, the Case was towed along the parade route by a newer tractor, emitting convincing puffs from the smoke stack.

“”We’ve out a smudge pot in the smoke stack,” Mair confided.

Most of the thousands of spectators who lined the streets came prepared, wearing rain gear and packing umbrellas.

But by the end, only a few hundred remained for the maypole dance at Fort Langley Community Park.

Pipers escorted the new May Queen, Anna Meads, and the royal party to their seats before soaking-wet maypole dancers from Coghlan and Willoughby schools began circling around two poles, wrapping them with ribbons.

“I’m proud to be a part of this tradition,” Meads said.

Her father, Jonathan Meads, was carrying a large zoom lens to capture the moment.

“It’s a proud dad day,” he said.

Princess Grace Young, who had the task of talking about volunteerism, noted that there are “fewer and fewer” maypole dancers than there were when she was a participant.

“There were up to six schools [when I was taking part],” the 11-year old said

At the end of the event, the pipers from the Correctional Service Canada pipes and drums assembled around the nearby cenotaph and played “Amazing Grace” in memory of the fallen.

More photos of the parade can be viewed online.

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Avery Tuff munched on a smokie at the May Day parade. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

B.C. Farm Museum Association president Jim Mair, at the wheel of a 1902 Case tractor. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

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