Sunbathers hoping for peace and quiet at Notre-Dame-de-Grâce park, far from the revving engines of Formula One, were out of luck on Saturday.
Instead of engines, the sounds of clanging swords and ringing bells interrupted the serenity, as the grassy park was turned into a fencing battleground.
Escrime Mont-Royal held the fifth edition of A Day of Sword Play, and 32 sabre-wielding fencers participated in the outdoor tournament.
Escrime Mont-Royal president Peter McLaughlin organized the event in hopes of attracting new people to the sport.
“It gives the opportunity for people around NDG and Montreal to see fencing and give it a try,” McLaughlin said.
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McLaughlin says there are some 1,000 fencers on the island of Montreal, but says there should and could be more.
The public event brings the indoor sport out in the open which allows people to see the prowess and skill, McLaughlin said.
Erick Foeering saw his first fencing duel three years ago and has been keeping his guard up ever since.
“When you play, you don’t think about anything. You live in the moment,” Foeering said.
Passersby were encouraged by club members to pick up the pointed steel weapon and give it a whirl.
Francois Vaillancourt donned the full suit and helmet for the first time and said he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“One thing led to another,” Vaillancourt said. “They put this helmet on my head and this uniform on my chest and they made a shish kebab out of me.”
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The event was part of the national Particpaction Community Better Challenge, an initiative that runs from May 31 to June 16.
The goal is to help get communities active. Cities and towns that participate get the chance at a $150,000 grand prize if selected.
“We want the whole community to know that they can get moving and they can make our community the most active,” McLaughlin said.