Border construction halts annual festival

Published on Thu, Mar 13, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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Border construction halts annual festival

By Jack Kintner

This year’s mass gathering of Canadian and American scouts known as Hands Across the Border has been postponed until next year, according to Bob Hines, president of the American side of the International Peace Arch Association.

The gathering is normally held on the afternoon of the second Sunday in June, which this year would be June 8. As many as 30,000 Canadian and American scouts and their adult leaders have come to Blaine every year since the event started in the 1920s, many of them camping overnight.

Hines, 79, said the event had to be postponed for the first time since WWII due to construction work on the new Peace Arch customs building.

“It’s not something we do lightly,” Hines said, “but it costs quite a bit of money to do, about $6,000, all of which is donated.” None of the volunteers from the International Peace Arch Association, the sponsoring body, are paid, he added. “It’s the only event locally for which the freeway (I-5 in the U.S., and Highway 99 in Canada) is closed,” Hines said, “and we’ll be back, just not this year. Bigger and better.”