The Clinton Annual Ball continues to carry on – even during the pandemic.
When COVID-19 threatened to kill the ball’s status as the longest continually-held event of its kind in Canada, some nimble footwork from the CAB committee kept the ball going with its record intact.
The ball was first held on New Year’s Day 1868 when Clinton was a remote outpost in the six-month-old country of Canada. The event, held over several days, was a welcome and convivial respite from the harsh realities of life in the Cariboo and the long, cold winter; a place where everyone who was anyone for miles around could don their finest clothes and eat, drink, and be merry.
Over the decades the ball changed its length and date, and for many years has been held at the end of May, where it helps kick off Clinton’s Heritage Week.
In 2020, a “mini-ball” was held on Sept.26, with the CAB committee, a couple of spouses, and Clinton Mayor Susan Swan in attendance. Instead of taking place in the memorial hall, the ball was held in the basement of the Clinton Legion. Programs were printed, a red-and-white theme was chosen, the tables and chairs were decorated, and the dozen or so guests — clad in their period finery — assembled under the eye of longtime master of ceremonies, Wayne Marchant.
“It was important to the community and to ourselves,” said CAB committee chair Charlene Boscott. Attendees eschewed the usual sit-down dinner, and instead brought a selection of appetizers. All COVID-19 protocols were strictly observed, but Marchant gave a very light-hearted speech, and there was dancing to records that people had brought, which were played on a replica vintage record player.
Boscott says that this year’s ball will follow roughly the same format. “I can see us having another small event of some kind, even if it’s just a gathering with a lot of us dressed up in ball gowns and top hats. We don’t have a date yet, and we won’t be inviting the usual dignitaries. We can’t do that until we get different health orders, and we don’t know what the world holds for us.”
Despite the current uncertainties, Boscott and the committee are sure of one thing: the traditional Clinton Annual Ball will be back one day, noting it has evolved to anchor Heritage Week.
“The ball is huge in Clinton; not just for the area, but from a historical standpoint. It’s a reminder of what our predecessors did for fun and to socialize. The discussions we had and the comments we heard when we talked with people after postponing the ball shows how important it is to Clintonites, and how important it is to the village, economically and historically.”
To purchase or reserve tickets for the ball, make a donation, or be a sponsor, contact Charlene Boscott at (250) 457-2759 or Dina Connon at (250) 459-7069. Or check the Clinton Annual Ball website at https://www.clintonannualball.com/ or email the committee at email@example.com.