The 50th annual Langley Walk is coming up Sunday, May 6. The 50th year of any event is special, but what a tribute to the parks and recreation folks of the City and Township of Langley for keeping this event alive all these years.
The Walk is not always an easy sell. As some have said, ‘It’s not sexy, it doesn’t raise funds for any project, it doesn’t raise awareness for any disease, nor does it attract international attention.” What it does do is encourage families to get off the couch and get some exercise.
That hasn’t changed since Township Parks and Recreation director Pete Swensson came up with the idea 50 years ago. A few other things have changed and some of them are easier to accept than others.
I can recall those long 18 and 20-mile walks years ago. We didn’t prepare for weeks or do warm-ups at the start, we just started walking. We didn’t have expensive name brand shoes, just our PE runners that developed blisters on our feet after the first five miles. We didn’t lather on sunscreen, we just put up with the blisters that developed on our shoulders after the first five miles.
There were no garbage cans along the route and when we finished with our brown paper bags and pop bottles we just tossed them in the bush. We ate hamburgers and hot dogs at the start and the finish and we went home happy.
This year our planning committee decided early that the 50th Langley Walk would reflect our new age thinking. It would be ‘Healthy and Green.’ The committee, a group of passionate and dedicated folks, all agreed and we set about planning the event.
Change is good, change is important, but you go first. As we planned the menu, we left out the burgers and dogs for veggie wraps. Some suggested adding chili but then what to do with the Styrofoam bowls and plastic forks? Someone also suggested that if we added chili, it would have to be renamed the Langley Walk and Runs.
Sponsors offered sugar-laden drinks or coupons for fast food outlets. ‘Great,’ some of us said. But we were reminded we had committed to a healthy walk. Should we turn them down, were we going to ‘Walk the Langley Walk or just Talk the Langley Walk?’ Change is always easy when it doesn’t directly affect you.
We see this every day in society. We are warned about the air, the water, the forests, the endangered species and we hope somebody is looking after all that. What if it’s you and me that are supposed to be looking after all that? What if setting up recycling bins along the route is going to set an example, educate and enlighten? Saying we wanted to be healthy and green raised a lot of debate, and a lot of people had to examine their priorities.
In the end, a positive compromise was reached and people will have the information and the choice and it will be a healthy, green event. It’s all about small steps and little victories and we move ahead that way. I can only imagine what the 100th Langley walk will look like.
I hope I can still persuade the committee to have a big pan of frying onions there, just for the smell. Or maybe in a wok, a big Langley Wok. At least that’s what McGregor says.