Yesterday — January 2, 2006 — was a weird day, with half the world acting as if it were business as usual, and the other half staying home to take a “day in lieu of” because the January 1 holiday fell on a Sunday. So my colleagues at Yankee were at work and the Charlottetown Mall was open, but I was at home recovering from the levees, watching Sesame Street and foraging through the almost-empty chocolates boxes for a hint of something with caramel.
But that was the morning after the day before. On January 1, 2006, as is almost a “tradition” now (2004, 2005), my compatriots G., J. and P. came by the house at 10:00 a.m. for an early cup of coffee and a review of the levee schedule. By 10:15 a.m. we were in the truck and off to start our day.
Highlights of our tour this year:
- For the second year in a row, Andrew Sprague was nowhere to be seen. Do they have levees in Saint John?
- Leo Cheverie was, however, in exactly the same spot in the Charlottetown Hotel where I shook has hand in 2005.
- As usual, Wes MacAleer was everywhere. That man has bonhomie in spades.
- Hon. Shawn Murphy and his Conservative opponent in the federal election, Tom DeBlois, always seemed to be within 20 feet of each other every time we saw them. I hope they shook hands at least once.
- Tim Banks trailed me the entire day.
- The apple cider at Fanningbank hit the spot. Gone this year was the book at the exit, the signing of which was always purported to earn one an invitation to the “garden party” mid-summer. P. said he thinks the “garden party” is open to everyone now, so earning an invite ceased to have any cachet.
- We ran into Hon. Pat Binns in the line at Charlottetown City Hall. He shook my hand, and said “Happy New Year, Peter.” Which makes me think he actually knows my name. Obviously this means I’m either being targeted for assassination, or that I will be running against Richard Brown in District 12 in 2007.
- Leaving City Hall we took on C., a new member of the pack. She was dressed like a space warrior, which added a certain futuristic quality to our group.
- The folks at the Queen Charlotte Armories outdid themselves this year: the chowder had an extra snap, the band was hot, the yellow and black curtain/bunting wrapping the hall was fantastic, and the place was packed. This is definitely the mid-levee-day highlight.
- The “moose milk” at the Havilland Club seemed to pack an extra wallop this year.
- New this year was a stop at the Town of Stratford levee (P., J., and C. are all Stratfordians and so they felt the special pull of their kin). This was held at the Monster Town Hall (which is actually quite a pleasant, airy space). Mayor Kevin Jenkins was there with his council, there was wine and punch in abundance, and a nice collection of snacks laid out.
- The strip over the river meant that we missed HMCS Charlottetown’s levee. Next year.
- Our strategy of arriving early for the Premier’s levee at the Confederation Centre paid off again: we were in line at 2:25 (the official start time was 3:00), and so our time in line was quick, and the mountains of tasty foods were fresh and waiting for us.
I almost decided not to go out this year — post-Christmas fatigue and all. But P. called the night before, G. was intransigent, and so I was wooed. I’m glad. See in 2007.