CHAMBER CHAT: Chamber of Commerce leads annual parade

By Kim Smythe

In 1967, Nanaimo’s centennial event – the inaugural bathtub race -- saw more than 200 racers battle to cross the Georgia Strait and land on a beach in Vancouver first.

Today, the great race finishes at Departure Bay, covering just as gruelling a course.

In the early days it was a challenge to just get past the starting line in the chop caused by an extra 785 observation and escort boats. From the confusion of these early races, Nanaimo’s World Championship Bathtub Race and three-day Marine Festival has evolved. Tubbers now share the spotlight with many other land and water events. And this year, the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce proudly becomes the object of this annual, iconic event’s salute.

On July 26, 10:30 a.m., the annual Sail Past on Wheels Fun Parade starts at Selby Street, proceeding down Fitzwilliam Street through the Old City Quarter through the City Center, then along Front Street to Cliff Street. We’ll be at the front of that parade, waving our hearts out to the crowds lining the streets.

Saturday night, Vancouver Island’s premiere fireworks display, the Quality Foods Festival of Light and Music fireworks display takes place in the Boat Basin. We’ll be there oohing and aaahing to the flashing sky along with everyone else.

We’ll join the thousands of excited spectators as the annual race starts at 11 a.m. on Sunday in the harbor for the hour and a half challenge to the Pepsi finish line at Departure Bay.

After all the racers have landed, plenty of fans and curious onlookers will stay on at Departure Bay beach to enjoy the entertainment and food and refreshment booths. We’ll certainly be there, too.

Three full days of fun and activities for the young, old and in-between, family oriented and held in the bathtub racing capital of the world. Come join the chamber July 25-27 and take in the world’s cleanest sport -- bathtub racing.

And you can win a special place in this year’s event with a Chamber of Commerce rubber ducky. Buy one for $5 and you’re entered into a bathtub weekend prize package that puts you in the heart of the action all weekend – private viewing of the parade and fireworks, a ride in the big tub and more. Check us out on Facebook or at for a chance to win.

Kim Smythe is CEO of Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.

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