In an increasingly connected world, we can almost become even more disconnected with the people nearest to us. That’s why building a sense of community is more important than ever and it is almost in that spirit that Hats Off Day in Burnaby Heights has been such a big success year after year. It is on this day that the merchants up and down the Hastings Street corridor in North Burnaby “tip their hats,” so to speak, to the residents and community members in the neighbourhood by hosting a big street fair.
We have several sushi and pho restaurants on Hastings. We have Turkish Donair, an old American style soda shop, a couple of thrift stores, a dance studio and so much more.
The theme for Hats Off Day 2013 was Mad Hatter’s Day, inspired by the adventures of Alice in Wonderland. I spotted Alice and the Cheshire Cat walking the streets and, while not directly related to Wonderland, there were several bouncy castles around for the kids. Stores like A-Power Computer were giving away free gifts with a lucky spin of the wheel, street vendors were selling balloons shaped like cartoon characters, and there were some fun (free) craft areas too.
Even though the neighborhood continues to change and evolve, a lot of it still stays the same. Places like Regent Fish Market and Cioffi’s Meat Market have been here for ages and they’ve become pillars of the community. And they were gladly offering up some Hats Off Day specials, like two pounds of halibut steak for $20. You can see Chez Meme Baguette Bistro next door and, like previous years, they were selling awesome French crepes.
Burnaby Fire Fighters allowed themselves to get dunked in the tank for charity and the entertainment spilled into the streets with live music and acrobatics. And since it was all outdoors, plenty of people came out to Hats Off Day with their dogs… there was even a small dog obstacle course set up!
I was only at Hats Off Day for about an hour, but I had a great time. People who say that Vancouver is a “no fun city” just aren’t trying hard enough. In fact, if you happen to be in the area this coming weekend, there’s Italian Day on Commercial Drive and I hear they’re doing a Venetian theme with fancy masks and the whole bit. I wonder if they’ll have a guy on stilts too…