By Alyssa Pitcher
The United States/Canada Peace Anniversary Association (USCPAA) is bringing back Hands Across the Border. The event will take place on Sunday, June 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Peace Arch State Park.
The decision to bring back the event was made after a survey of 530 previous event participants was conducted last summer. “We had a result that was impressive and moving,” said Christina Alexander, head of USCPAA.
Survey participants were allowed to leave comments and many of them said they missed the event. “The kids hated to see it go,” said Bob Hines, previous program coordinator. Hines ran the event for 18 years and said he remembered how excited people who had participated in the event were to bring their children and grandchildren to experience it too.
Hands Across the Border is an event for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, but it will be open for anyone. In previous years, the event has drawn more than 5,000 people, but this year there will be a limit of 2,000 participants. According to Alexander, 2,000 is a manageable number but one that the USCPAA can be proud of.
“The event used to attract thousands and thousands of people,” Alexander said. Having a cap on the number of participants this year helps the USCPAA to better prepare for the event. It gives the association an opportunity to improve by implementing changes such as online registration on a smaller group. A post-event participant survey will determine which changes were successful.
The USCPAA originally set a goal to have 1,000 participants registered for the event by April 14 to gauge interest in the revival. More than 600 people registered by the deadline, missing the goal by about 400 participants, but the USCPAA board decided to continue the event as planned, Alexander said. As of April 21, 852 people had registered.
For the first time in the event’s history registration will be online at handsacrosstheborder.info. Registration fees are $15. Alexander said using a website to register has brought the program to the next generation. When participants arrive at the event this year they will simply need to check in and collect their goody bag.
“We are working closely with the business community as we bring the program back to life,” Alexander said. Community partners of the event include Birch Bay Waterslides, which is offering a discount to scout troops, and the Lynden Pioneer Museum, which is offering free admission to event participants.
According to Alexander, the event will have a positive impact on tourism for the community. Participants from as far as Spokane and Springfield, Oregon, have registered already, and many of these participants will stay in the area for the weekend.
For more information, visit handsacrosstheborder.info/home.html.