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Coronavirus: Saint John to hold smaller, outdoor Remembrance Day service

Click to play video 'Remembrance Day service at Saint John’s TD station cancelled due to COVID-19' Remembrance Day service at Saint John’s TD station cancelled due to COVID-19
WATCH: Remembrance Day service at Saint John’s TD station cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers of the annual Remembrance Day services in Saint John have cancelled this year’s ceremony at TD Station due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lt. (Retired) Bernard Cormier, the chair of the Saint John Remembrance Day Committee, said it was not unexpected, although a final decision was made just last week.

In its place, Cormier said a smaller ceremony will take place at the Cenotaph in Kings Square.

The TD Station event draws 6,000-7,000 people, many of them veterans and seniors. Cormier said pandemic-related restrictions on group gatherings make it impossible and impractical to plan for the regular event.

Cormier said organizers hope to keep the outdoor event as similar as possible to the arena ceremony, with a few exceptions.

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There will be no military parades, choirs or bands this year, he said.

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“This year, the wreaths will be pre-placed on the Cenotaph,” Cormier said. “So that the wreath-layers, all they have to do is walk up when they’re called, and they would salute or bow.”

He said they’re still expecting to have a piper and trumpeter.

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It will mean changes for Royal Canadian Air Force squadron leader (retired) Bruce Carter of Quispamsis.

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Carter, 95, began his military career as a teenager in New Zealand. He became a member of both the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force, serving two and a half years for both countries during the Second World War.

He said it will be different not being at TD Station this year.

“Because it gives everyone a chance to remember the service of those who served and those who lost their lives,” Carter said. “But we’ve got to make the best of the situation as it is now.”

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Cormier said the Cenotaph service will be shorter than usual and only about 50 people will be able to attend. He said the public is being discouraged from attending.

The 2020 Saint John Remembrance Day service will be held at the Cenotaph in Kings Square.
The 2020 Saint John Remembrance Day service will be held at the Cenotaph in Kings Square. Tim Roszell/Global News

The committee is hoping to arrange for the Cenotaph service to be live-streamed.

Cormier said they’re also examining other ways for the public to show their appreciation on Remembrance Day, but nothing has been finalized.

READ MORE: What Remembrance Day will look like in London this year

“Maybe people could get into their vehicles,” he started. “Instead of us doing a march past in front of a crowd of six or seven thousand people, the crowd would come out in their vehicles and pay their respects by driving by, perhaps, a contingent of military, representatives from different units, a legion, veterans and so on.”

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Carter said he’s ready for the change, bur remains hopeful of a return to the more traditional service next year.

“If I’m still around,” he smiled. “I’ll appreciate the fact that I’ve made it into 2021, and a chance to meet with more service men and women at the service.”