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Thousands brave the heat for Armed Forces Day at North Bay’s waterfront

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Thousands of people braved the blistering heat at North Bay’s waterfront for Armed Forces Day.

It was a day full of celebration and recognition for the men and women who have served our country and those who continue to serve to this day.

This year marks the centennial anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. As the Snowbirds aerial team zoomed by, there were cheers and thunderous applause from the crowd.

“I got to learn about new things and see this beautiful show,” said École élémentaire catholique Saint-Raymond Grade 6 student Ella Dupuis.

In all, 2,800 students from North Bay and area schools dressed in red and blue were waving Canadian flags and air force flags

A crowd of more than 3,000 bellowed out two words for all Canadian service men and women: thank you.

“Armed Forces Day means that we should be grateful for the people that sacrificed their lives so we can have safety,” said École élémentaire catholique Saint-Raymond Grade 6 student Sam Carre.

Country singer Cory Marks belted out the lyrics to his song ‘Snowbirds’ as the aerial squadron flew overhead. It’s a tribute song he wrote dedicated to the pilots.

“The dream of being a pilot started at a very young age,” Marks told reporters.

“It’s a dedication to the team and dedication to all the men and women serving.”

Kids pose with bald eagle mascot as they celebrate Armed Forces Day at North Bay’s Shabogesic Beach. June 19, 2024 (Eric Taschner/CTV Northern Ontario)

Seeing the crowd brought out the emotions for 94-year-old Korean War veteran Dennis Moore. Moore was part of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry at the age of 18.

He recalled hearing Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent’s voice on the radio asking for volunteers willing to enlist.

“I think of all my old friends that didn’t make it home and the ones that are here now,” Moore told CTV News.

“What I really like is what’s behind me. It’s all those kids and they know now what it’s all about.”

In total, there are around 450 personnel stationed at 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base North Bay, including 100 United States Air Force members responsible for identifying and surveying nearly 200,000 flights that approach Canada each year.

“The chief and I talked about it today and we’re cooler than Iron Man or Thor today,” laughed wing commander Col. Richard Jolette.

“People want to talk to us and they want to hear our story.”

Mayor Peter Chirico was impressed by the crowd.

“They are our service personnel living away from home,” Chirico said.

“These are coaches and they are volunteers. They do everything in our community. This is the largest Armed Forces Day in Canada, right here in North Bay.”

Before the Snowbirds took to the sky, the engines of the CF-18 roared loud for all to hear.

The Canadian Forces parachute team, the Skyhawks, were supposed to jump, but high winds prevented that. Members of the team were seen saying hello and talking to some of the children.

There was a static display with a jeep, a tank, face painting, a chance to get autographs and a tour of a CH-146 Griffon helicopter.

“When I see a veteran, I’m going to thank them for the safety they have given us,” Dupuis said. 

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