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What's behind targeting the Lancers?
This year marks the 143rd New Westminster May Day celebrations.
Because it is unique to New Westminster, May Day is a civic event that truly unites New Westminster citizenry of all ages, and past generations.
From the day Coun. Chuck Puchmayr chose to question the traditional May Day dance of the Lancers, not a day goes by that someone doesn't engage me in conversation to discuss the matter.
Though Puchmayr felt the need to clarify that his quest to "modernize" the dance was "no disrepect" to either the Lancers or the tradition, the fact is that many residents are offended by his actions because of the insinuation that something untoward either has or could take place.
With sarcasm, some have asked "What's next? Will we stop children from sitting on Santa's knee?"
Having an awareness of the process and knowing the responsible chaperoning of the girls, and also knowing many of the Lancers (past and present), I can say that it is absurd to insinuate anything negative about this tradition.
To those who have any gut-reaction objections to the Lancer dance and/or any question as to what exactly transpires up to the day of performance, I suggest they learn about it before they criticize it.
Performed by mature gentlemen of notable community standing and the young girls elected annually to the May Day suite, the traditional Lancer dance is now in question for the upcoming May Day celebrations.
The motion about making changes to the dance that was passed at city council was to schedule a discussion between members of council and the school board with a friendly amendment to also include representation from the Lancers.
Why was the May Day committee excluded from the discussion table, or the girls (and their families) who have performed the dance in years past?
Are there not more urgent matters that deserve his attention like the fact that New West residents are so highly taxed compared to the rest of the province?
One letter writer posed the question "what is this really about?"
Some of the people who have engaged me in discussion of the matter would answer that Puchmayr is earning the financial contributions made to his political campaign from unions, some members of which are highly vocal against May Day. I am puzzled as to why a long-standing, wholesome, community-building celebration like May Day would ever be the target of such negativity and I wonder what good would be achieved if it were to end.
Perhaps, more to the point, folks ought to give more consideration to what would be lost if it were to end.
If there are changes to be made, they ought to come about as a result of positive thinking and they ought to enhance the celebration without diminishing existing traditions, very much like the decision to incorporate the Royal Knights as part of the existing May Day Suite.