Thousands of people flocked to Lakeside Park in Kingsville on Saturday for the return of the Highland Games.
“After COVID, everyone is looking to get out and get their yayas out and it makes for a timely event to get out and mingle with everyone. It’s good to see the crowd,” said participant Jeff Coulter.
Fans of the games lined up to watch various events spread across Lakeside Park.
“It’s so vital that people get out,” said Essex MP Chris Lewis. “Mental health is such a major issue that many of us face, so events like this get people out, get them out and can enjoy a conversation again.”
Doug Plumb, event chair, said it was disheartening not to be able to build on the momentum built after the inaugural event three years ago, but he’s glad the tough side of the pandemic seems be in the rearview mirror.
“A lot of people are in town, really wanted to go out and have fun and they’re here,” he said.
These folks were downtown, boosting the local economy before heading to the waterfront park.
“It really celebrates the strength we have together collectively and celebrates the success of the companies that have worked hard and tirelessly to get through this,” Mayor Nelson Santos said.
Organizers expected more than 5,000 people for the one-day event.
“(In) 2019, people loved it. A lot of people said I was sorry we couldn’t come for some reason and they are here today. There was a lot of noise around town about it,” Plumb said.
There was activity in the park throughout the day.
The standoff electrified the large crowd on several occasions. Sherry Coulter loved it.
“The tussle was worth the price of admission,” she said.
Mitchel Colomba was one of the tug of war athletes who fed on the energy of the crowd.
“It’s a real opportunity for us to come out and practice and camaraderie among the crowd. It’s really great,” he said.
There was food, entertainment, dance competitions, heritage and culture to enjoy. “
The idea that it looks like history is quite important,” said 94-year-old Hugh McDonald.
Former CTV anchor Jim Crichton served as the MC on the main stage. He celebrated his heritage by wearing a tartan made in Scotland.
“I’m wearing this in honor of my late father,” said Crichton, whose father was born in Scotland. “I had it done a year after he passed away, so it’s very special to me.”
It was a special event for Santos who is not seeking re-election in October. He last competed in a Haggis throwing competition against local mayors.
Although he did not repeat as champion, he is proud to have been part of an event he believes is set up for long-term success.
“The experience you get here is unlike any other and that’s what’s going to drive success,” Santos said.