A Sense of Pride for 29 Years

A Sense of Pride for 29 Years
Long time Family First Chair Wendy Prieur with David Lamothe and Erin Vaughan

Looking back over 29 years of one of three of the longest lasting community events brings back fond memories for Wendy Prieur, who has been involved from the start and is the current chair of the event.  Families First Celebration was created in 1994 by an organization called North Bay Focus.  The North Bay Focus leaders Dan Bagley, Mary Davis, Wendy Prieur, Brian Winkworth, Dave Thompson and community member Mike Kitlar, partnered with the city of North Bay parks & recreation department to create an event for the community, similar to Ottawa’s First Night Event. Long time serving members include David Lamothe (20 years) and Erin Vaughan (16 years) both continue to serve on the committee.

 It was decided that the event needed to be promoted as an alcohol-free event and free of charge to all that attended to create a safe fun night for families looking to celebrate New Years eve. On New Year’s Eve 1994, they launched the first annual event. Every year they modified the event to keep up with the changing times. It is a key reason to their success over the past 29 years.  Some activities have remained the same from opening night in 1994, such as the family skate and colouring contests at the Gardens, sliding and fireworks at Thompson Park and a family swim at the YMCA. Attendance over the years has ranged from 8,000 the first year and fluctuates around 2,000-5,000 each year since. The first year drew a bigger crowd, but the time was from 6:00-10:00, which was too late for young families. The committee adapted the time to allow young families to enjoy. 

 In the early years, they had dog sleigh rides, horse sleigh rides, sliding and free cocoa. They have had years of bonfires, hockey shootouts with the North Bay Trappers, snow golf. We have had North Bay Centennials players and North Bay Battalion support the skating portion and now the Ecole Secondaire Algonquin hockey team participates.  In recent years, we have included events such as face painting, button making, interactive reptile shows and magician. The spectacular fireworks finale has been a staple each year.

 To keep it a free event, they brought on corporate and personal/professional sponsors and have been able to count on volunteers to help run each activity. Although there has been many changes over the years, but the one thing that remains the same, is the magic you feel at Families First.

 For Wendy personally, she has attended and volunteered for the event for 28 years.  Wendy is currently the chair.

 Wendy cannot imagine doing anything different or being anywhere else on New Year’s Eve. Wendy has been a dedicated, proud member of the committee and she is honoured to be the Chairperson of such an amazing event for the last 3 years. Wendy is committed to do her best to keep the roots of the event true: alcohol free, free of charge, and encourage people to put their families first on New Year’s Eve by coming out and celebrating with us.

 Wendy is looking forward to next year’s 30th Anniversary.

The 29th Annual Family First Celebration


Hello Awesome People!

It looks like you are using Ad Blocker. We can understand that you don't like to see the ads frequently. But please try to understand that our business survive on the ads. Main source of revenue is Ads, please support us by disabling ad blocker.

Thank you for visiting Report North Bay!