A New Year's tradition continues
Stephen Uhler/Pembroke Daily Observer/Postmedia Network A toast to the new year! Piper Hugh Briand, left, and Pembroke Legion Branch 72 president Stan Halliday, right, toast the arrival of 2018, under the careful eye of Sgt. at Arms Chris Thorbourne, centre, during the annual New Year's Levee, held at the branch Monday.
The tradition continues for the Pembroke and Petawawa branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, who marked the coming of 2018 by hosting New Year's Levees.
A levee hosted by the 42 Field Regiment at the Pembroke Armoury was also observed.
Stretching back to the days of the fur trade, this long-standing Canadian military tradition involves visitors being greeted warmly, then offered a glass of Moose Milk. This is a potent punch which is a mixture of egg nog, ice cream and a hint of rum, plus other ingredients. This is only served on New Year's Day.
Bob Howell, president of Petawawa Branch 517 of the Royal Canadian Legion, said the event is considered a formal one, and recently the branch added a dress code banning jeans and overly casual clothing being worn by those attending.
“Us traditionalists like to dress up,” he said, noting the modest number of people who attended might have been the result of the dress code. The cold weather didn't help, as some people had trouble getting their vehicles going.
Howell said he wanted to extend his best wishes to everyone for the New Year, especially those who serve or have served in uniform.
“Never forget the veterans past, present and future, and all they have done for us,” he said. “God bless them all.”
Pembroke's ceremonies at the levee involved a number of pipers playing as they led the Legion's executive through the hall. One piper, Hugh Briand, toasted the New Year with a traditional Gaelic blessing, wishing for good health and prosperity for everyone in 2018.
Stan Halliday, president of Pembroke Branch 72, said this is the day when they have members and guests meet with the branch executive as they welcome the New Year together.
“The levee brings people together,” he said, and gives the Legion the chance to introduce those who work behind the scenes of the branch.
Halliday said this year will be challenging, as they continue to raise funds to use to upgrade the building, but he is confident they can meet it. Branches are forbidden to use money raised for the Poppy Fund, which goes directly to helping veterans.
He took a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year, from the Legion family to everyone else.
Pembroke Mayor Mike LeMay, who was among the dignitaries in attendance, thanked the Legion for all they've done in the community, and wished everyone a happy and healthy New Year.
Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, who had attended the Petawawa levee before arriving at the Pembroke one, said he was delighted to be here and wished everyone a prosperous and healthy 2018.