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Organizers thrilled with 2015 “Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy”

 

Vehicles are viewed as they are lined up along Dalhousie St. during the Amherstburg's Gone Car Crazy show July 26.

Vehicles are viewed as they are lined up along Dalhousie St. during the Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show July 26.

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg went “car crazy” again this year with a sea of classic automobiles filling the downtown streets last Sunday.

The tenth annual “Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy” show was held in warm, sunny conditions and that was just fine for organizing committee chair Eleanor Renaud.

“It was a fabulous day,” she said. “The weather was amazing. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

Approximately 520 vehicles took part in this year’s event, with people coming from as far as the Georgian Bay area, Thunder Bay and all around Michigan.

“I am happy with that number,” said Renaud.

Renaud noted that one of the features this year was a drone that flew over the show filming it and she said they hope to put the video of it on their website (www.amherstburgsgonecarcrazyshow.com). She said the show had great media coverage and also had great entertainment with Rick Rock, Crystal Gage and a Blues Brothers tribute band performing.

“I want to thank my volunteers,” she said. “They are an amazing crew that doesn’t quit on me.”

The Amherstburg Rotary Club operated the food pavilion while Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 oversaw the 50/50 draw and that worked well, Renaud believed.

Some tweaking takes place year-to-year to make the show better, she added, but they want to keep with what is working.

“It sounds arrogant, but we are the best show around,” said Renaud. “We hear it all the time. I’ve not heard one complaint.”

Lionel and Helen Caza of Chatham won the “Paulie” Award for best in show Sunday afternoon at the Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show. The couple received their trophy from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (far right).

Lionel and Helen Caza of Chatham won the “Paulie” Award for best in show Sunday afternoon at the Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show. The couple received their trophy from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (far right).

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo presented the “Paulie” Award to the car judged best in show, with this year’s winner being Lionel and Helen Caza of Chatham and their 1957 Olds. Lionel said they have owned the car 16 years and was thrilled to win the award.

“My heels are coming back down to the ground,” he said, a few moments after they posed with DiCarlo and the trophy.

The award is named for Renaud’s late husband and former councillor Paul Renaud, whose career on council spanned 15 years.

“He lives on in our memories and everything he did for the community,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor, who described himself as a “car freak,” thanked the organizers and said he hopes the show continues into the future.

“We’re so happy to have it in our town,” DiCarlo said. “I hope this event keeps going and going.”

Wayne and Vicki Drew of Amherstburg brought their 1988 S10 pickup and their 2013 Volvo tractor trailer cab to the show. Wayne estimated they went to about 20 shows in Canada and the United States last year but rain has held that number down this year.

“This is probably the top one in Canada,” he said of the “Car Crazy” show.

Wayne added he liked that the show was close to home. He said this show featured a lot of variety, like many of the U.S. shows do.

Dan and Tina Mailloux of Stoney Point said it was their second year at the show with their 1969 Chevy pickup.

“It’s really a good show with lots of variety,” said Tina.

“It attracts a lot of people,” added Dan.

Dan said they attend three or four shows per year and “this is one of the biggest, for sure.”

Ron and Connie Fauteux of Puce stand with their 1956 Thunderbird on Dalhousie St. Sunday afternoon as part of the Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show.

Ron and Connie Fauteux of Puce stand with their 1956 Thunderbird on Dalhousie St. Sunday afternoon as part of the Amherstburg’s Gone Car Crazy show.

Ron and Connie Fauteux of Puce brought their 1956 Thunderbird to Amherstburg for the show, as they have done for most of the past decade.

“We like being in town. We like being here, across from the park,” said Ron.

The Fauteuxs said they enjoy the mixture of cars, including some they don’t see on a regular basis.

“I just like the atmosphere,” Ron added. “It’s a great atmosphere for a car show. This is our favourite.”

Thousands head downtown for Mardi Gras street party

 

Brant the Fire Guy performs his daring routine at the Mardi Gras street party on July 24. Photo by Adam D’Andrea.

Brant the Fire Guy performs his daring routine at the Mardi Gras street party on July 24. Photo by Adam D’Andrea.

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Dalhousie Street was transformed into Bourbon Street last weekend, as Amherstburg was injected with the spirit of New Orleans.

Thousands flocked downtown to participate in Amherstburg’s first Mardi Gras street party from July 24-25, which saw Dalhousie closed from Richmond Street to just past Murray Street to accommodate the event. The party was organized by Ian France Entertainment and Events in cooperation with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce.

“I think this will be a great way to expose our downtown businesses to people in Amherstburg and outside of Amherstburg,” said ACOC president Chris Gibb. “I’m very excited with the amount of participation from our downtown businesses. They seem to be into it. I know the restaurants and bars are very excited.”

Gibb said the event was licensed for 4,000 attendees each night but it would be difficult to estimate the number of people who would come through the gates. Event coordinator Ian France said he was confident Saturday would be a sellout, with at least 50 per cent capacity on Friday night.

“With 1,400 tickets sold (for Friday night) alone, things are great,” said France. “This last week, as soon as the weather broke for us last week, the ticket sales just exploded. The reaction in the area’s been great.”

Shortly after doors opened at 5 p.m. on Friday night, Gibb said he had already heard nothing but positive comments.

“So far, everybody really seems to be enjoying it,” Gibb said. “It’s a good crowd, a 30+ crowd, that it seems to be right now. It’s very early, but we’re hoping for the best.”

Escape artist Bill Nuvo enlists some audience participation during his act at the Mardi Gras street party on July 24. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

Escape artist Bill Nuvo enlists some audience participation during his act at the Mardi Gras street party on July 24. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

Upon walking through the gates, guests were treated with performances from Brant the Fire Guy, magician and escape artist Bill Nuvo, Silver Elvis and a number of other street performers and musical artists. Several bars and restaurants on Dalhousie Street also had patios set up so attendees could enjoy their food and drinks outdoors.

As with most festivals taking place in Essex County this year, the underlying issue of the cancellation of the 2015 Shores of Erie International Wine Festival was addressed and acknowledged by the Mardi Gras organizers.

“First and foremost, and in very bold letters, we are hopeful that Shores of Erie is back in business next year. This event is not to replace what they’ve built over the years,” said Gibb, adding that they worked extremely hard to ensure the weekend was open only to those 19 and older, aside from a free family day on Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve got additional layers of security. People have to be ID’ed, they have to get a wristband. We’re monitoring for over-drinking. At the end of the day you do your best, you put everything in place and you hope it works.”

France said the incidents following last year’s Shores of Erie festival did not scare him away from booking future events, and added that he wishes the SOE organizers all the best and is confident they’ll return next year.

“While a lot of people were backing off I pushed forward, and we’re going to be launching a handful of new events in this area,” said France. “It all really comes down to preparation and planning and making sure you follow your policies and procedures.”

Whether or not Mardi Gras will be an annual event is currently up in the air, and according to Gibb the decision will remain in town council’s hands.

“At the end of the day it’s their decision whether or not this event goes on next year,” Gibb said. “For a first year we’re definitely going to try to prove ourselves for next year.”

Amherstburg regains top spot in “safest communities” ranking

Aburg Police Logo Rev-webBy Ron Giofu

 

After a one-year period where Amherstburg was knocked off the top of Statistics Canada’s crime severity index ranking, the town has returned to being number one and, in the process, regained the “safest community” status.

Statistics Canada released its figures for 2014 and – out of 303 municipalities with a population over 10,000 – Amherstburg has a crime severity index (CSI) of 15.74. That is the lowest number of any municipality but Amherstburg isn’t alone in the top ten.

LaSalle ranks number two (16.59) with Kingsville placing fourth, Tecumseh sixth and Lakeshore eighth. Amherstburg and LaSalle have municipal police forces while Kingsville, Tecumseh and Lakeshore have OPP policing.

“It’s anyone over 10,000 (people) and we’re number one,” said police chief Tim Berthiaume.

North Battleford, Saskatchewan has the highest CSI out of the 303 policing communities at 274.53 with none of the bottom 48 communities on the list being in Ontario.

Berthiaume is humble about the results, believing that if Amherstburg would slip down the rankings it would still not diminish the town as a great place to live. In last year’s rankings, Amherstburg slipped to fourth after spending the three previous years at the top.

“I think it’s a combination of effort between the police and the public working together to solve the community’s problems,” said Berthiaume. “This rating is something everyone can be proud of, both the police and the public. Everyone knows Amherstburg is a great town and Stats Canada has proven to us it is an exceptional town.”

The placement of the other communities in the top ten shows the entire region is a safe place to live, the chief added.

“Essex County is one of the best places to live in all of Canada for a plethora of reasons,” he continued. “We have some of the best weather in all of Canada, we have some of the most affordable real estate in all of Canada and we have some of the safest communities in Canada in which to live.”

Noting Amherstburg has “nowhere to go but down,” Berthiaume said he is not going to worry if Amherstburg falls out of the number one position. Other communities are also reporting decreases in crime so that could factor into future rankings as could factors beyond the police department’s control.

“Amherstburg is a very safe town to live in,” he said. “I’m not going to panic if we drop to a lower position. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re going to strive to keep improving our service delivery to Amherstburg.”

Berthiaume cautions that just because the town’s CSI is best in Canada for municipalities with a 10,000 population or higher, it doesn’t mean it is without crime.

“We still need people to lock their doors and to be mindful that while we have some of the lowest crime rates in Canada, we are not crime-free,” he said. “We want people to lock their doors and report suspicious activity. We could not do our jobs as effectively and efficiently as we do without the support of the community. The citizens of this town are our eyes and ears. Police can’t be everywhere. We need everyone to keep an eye on their neighbourhoods.”

Crime abatement programs, including the VIP (Values, Influences and Peers), appear to be working effectively, the chief added, with the police service putting resources into areas the community needs.

According to Statistics Canada, the crime severity index “is a measure of police-reported crime that reflects the relative seriousness of individual offences and tracks changes in crime severity. It was first introduced in 2009 and was developed at the request of the policing community to address limitations to the traditional Crime Rate.”

Statistics Canada adds: “It complements two other measures of crime: the police-reported Crime Rate, which measures the volume of crime, and victimization survey data, which measure Canadians’ experiences of crime.”

The CSI is calculated using a formula that uses sentencing data from the court system.

“The seriousness of each offence is determined by using objective sentencing data from the nation’s courts. Each individual offence is ‘weighted’ according to the severity of the sentences handed down by judges,” Statistics Canada states. “Sentencing data come from Statistics Canada’s Adult and Youth Courts Surveys. Weights for the Index are based on the average of five years of courts sentencing data and they are updated every five years, using the most recent data available from the courts. It should be noted that outliers (atypically very long and unique sentences for a given offence) are not included in the average.”

Stats Canada further states that “weights are updated to reflect recent sentencing practices and to account for any new Criminal Code offences.”

WWI highlighted during Fort Malden event

 

Fort Malden staff explain the details of World War One era military uniforms during their Great War Encampment event on July 25. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

Fort Malden staff explain the details of World War One era military uniforms during their Great War Encampment event on July 25. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Visitors to the Fort Malden National Historic Site last weekend got a special look at World War One history during their second-annual Great War Encampment event.

Spectators get a look at artillery during the “Muskets to Mausers” firing demonstration at Fort Malden’s Great War Encampment event on July 25. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

Spectators get a look at artillery during the “Muskets to Mausers” firing demonstration at Fort Malden’s Great War Encampment event on July 25. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

Although Fort Malden generally focuses on local history with regards to the War of 1812, from July 25-26 they gave attendees the chance to learn a bit more about the Great War. Those who stopped by could stroll the grounds to get a closer look at some of the vintage cars, motorcycles and other vehicles which were new additions to this year’s event, as well as watch some special presentations on artillery, uniforms and cavalry.

Throughout the weekend there were a number of demonstrations carried out by WW1 re-enactors including soldier, horse and vehicle parades, kids activities, a “Muskets to Mausers” firing demonstration and “Sports of World War One” baseball game.

Fort Malden played a crucial role in local WW1 history, acting as a recruiting office for London’s 1st Hussars horseback regiment. In addition, there was a large number of men from Amherstburg, as well as other areas of Essex County, who shipped off to fight in Europe and contribute to the war effort during this time.

The next special event at Fort Malden will be their annual Military Heritage Days this weekend. This event will venture even further from the War of 1812 and highlight nearly 2,000 years of military history from the Romans, Redcoats and more. For more information, contact Fort Malden at 519-736-5416.

Local native trying to drum out Cystic Fibrosis

 

Colin Marshall of Amherstburg will be starting a world record drum-a-thon attempt Aug. 21. He is accepting donations through www.cmdrums.org. He is raising money in the fight against cystic fibrosis.

Colin Marshall of Amherstburg will be starting a world record drum-a-thon attempt Aug. 21. He is accepting donations through www.cmdrums.org. He is raising money in the fight against cystic fibrosis.

By Ron Giofu

 

A drummer who grew up in Amherstburg is using his talents to try and raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.

Colin Marshall, who now lives in England, is hoping to set a record but also wants to fundraise in the battle against the disease he was first diagnosed with as a teenager. Marshall has applied to challenge the current world record for the longest drum-a-thon by an individual. His goal is to play the drums for 130 hours and raise £130,000, which converts to over $202,000 Canadian.

“At the age of 16 I was diagnosed with a rare mutation of Cystic Fibrosis,” explained Marshall. “Many people know Cystic Fibrosis to affect mainly the lungs and digestive system. What they may not be aware of is that 98 per cent of Cystic Fibrosis patients are unable to have children.”

Marshall noted that this is a result of the Vas Deferens (tubes which carry sperm) being too narrow or not developed at all.

“Being genetically denied the most basic human right is a horrible thing,” he said. “After hearing this news I was adamant on being tested. The results showed that I’m one of the two per cent of CF patients who can have children. It has now become my goal to raise awareness of this horrible disease in hopes to find a cure.”
Marshall knows the odds are long in getting a cure, but added that isn’t stopping him from doing what he can.
“Though currently it is said to be ‘incurable,’ I wish to show that anything is possible!,” said Marshall. “If I can beat the odds of 98 per cent, then through awareness and funds we can find a way!”

Marshall is a recent graduate with a qualification in drumming from the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, England and plans to make his world record attempt from there starting Aug. 21.

“The current record is 122 hours, 25 minutes. Sensibly I should only be going for 122 hours, 45 minutes but I really don’t like uneven numbers and 130 is the closest ten I can round to,” joked Marshall. “Plus, going to 130 hours makes it less likely for the record to be beaten in the future.”
Marshall said he has been running to improve his cardio, cut out all junk food and stopped drinking coffee and any other caffeine based drinks/foods almost three months ago.

“The hope is that the caffeine will have more of an affect on me during the drum-at-thon,” he said. “In respects to drumming, I have been increasing the amount of time spent behind the kit every few days. Within the next week or so, I will be doing 12 hours with one break in the middle.”

Marshall added the rules stipulate five minutes rest for every hour drummed.

“Much like Da Vinci, I’ll be polyphasic sleeping throughout the event,” he said. “Every six hours I will take my 30 minutes rest using roughly five minutes to get down from the kit, 20 minutes to sleep, and five minutes to get back onto the kit. Each day I’ll get two hours total of sleep.”

Marshall added he will be having a shot of espresso before each nap, something he believes “will also help as by the time I’m back on the kit the caffeine will take effect.”

He is currently being supported by several drum companies including Zildjian, Remo, Vic Firth, and Tama.

To donate online towards Marshall’s record attempt, visit www.justgiving.com/drumathon4cf or www.cmdrums.org.