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Fredericton residents new and old enjoy Canada 150 celebrations despite rain

WATCH ABOVE: Residents in Fredericton came out to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday despite some rainy weather. Adrienne South reports.

Despite the rainy weather, spirits remained high at Fredericton’s Canada 150 celebrations.

Festivities kicked off at noon at Officers’ Square, with the crowds growing as the day went on and the rain slowed.

Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien said he was “bursting with pride” to be able to celebrate Canada Day with all the festivities the capital city had to offer.

“We won the lottery being able to live here, or decide to come here, or be born here especially,” O’Brien said.

He said a little rain wouldn’t dampen the spirits of those out celebrating and noted the evening’s fireworks show will be the largest in Fredericton’s history.

“Our city is packed — it’s buzzing, it’s alive,” O’Brien said.

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O’Brien pointed out Fredericton had settled the most Syrian newcomers per capita in Canada, adding that over 100 hundred refugees come to the city every year in addition to the hundreds of others who come from around the world to live here.

READ MORE: Fredericton welcomed more Syrians per capita than other Canadian cities: multicultural association

“Our city is changing,” O’Brien said. “It’s changing for the better. It brings in excitement, it lifts the culture, the language, the food, the experience. We want to be one of the more modern cities in Canada and we need newcomers to help us get there — and we’re on our way.”

Syrian Mohammad Bakhash and his family came to Canada more than a year ago and were recently reunited to relatives who arrived in February.

READ MORE: Syrian refugee family to reunite in Fredericton after year apart

Bakhash said it’s the first Canada Day he’ll get to share with his brother and both their families in Fredericton.

“It’s a great opportunity to share in the Canadian celebration of this great day.  We have to show up today to send our [message of] gratitude, our huge thanks to the people who welcomed us,” Bakhash said.

He said he’s extremely grateful to everyone who shared their homes and said it’s his family’s turn to show their appreciation.

“That’s a great feeling, to have my big family here in Canada,” Bakhash said. “That gives me more confidence to re-adapt [and] be integrated in my new community.

“I would like to thank the Canadian people for the hospitality they received us with, to all the warm feelings that they surrounded us with,” he added.

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“Some people think it’s a government decision to have Syrians here — it’s not at all; it’s the willingness of the Canadian people, and [we wouldn’t be] settled here in Canada without the great support from the great Canadian people.”