Drop the puck! For Canadians, their day in sun

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Drop the puck! For Canadians, their day in sun

The best part of being in the Canada Day Celebration Picnic is "getting hot," said John Chow, a Chinese-Canadian from Vancouver.

Mr. Chow leads more than 100 volunteers working on the outdoor event in Seoul scheduled for Sunday. In the past, Mr. Chow and other volunteers used to barbecue beef on the charcoal grills all afternoon. Terry Cox, a Canadian from Victoria, said, "Now we get a catering service; the party has grown so big over the years."

When not working as volunteers, Mr. Chow and Mr. Cox are senior executive officers at Telsk, a telecommunications company in Seoul.

Observed on Monday, Canada Day commemorates the formation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. With the 1982 passage of the Canada Act, the name was officially changed to Canada Day. It is celebrated with parades, fireworks, flag displays and the singing of the national anthem, "O Canada."

To make sure the day is properly celebrated, the local Canadian community is inviting all nationalities to the UN Compound on Sunday. The event has been organized by volunteers and members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Korea for the past few years, since the businessmen took over the nonprofit event from the Canadian Embassy three years ago. When it began in 1974, according to Duane McMullen, the counselor of the Canadian Embassy, it was a small gathering, sort of a family reunion in Korea with an abundance of food, beer and prizes. Through word of mouth, attendance grew each year. Last year, more than 1,500 people came; this year some 2,500 are expected at the picnic site near Yongsan.

Waiting to be consumed this year will be barbecued Canadian beef, Canadian salmon, Starbucks coffee and more than 10,000 cans of imported Canadian beer and Korean beer. Games will include drinking relays, tugs-of-war, races, field hockey and more. The event is also a place to network. "More than 30 percent of Canadians living in Korea are English teachers," Mr. Chow said. "We get teachers living as far as away as Yeosu and Mokpo; it's the biggest day in the year for them."

Here's what volunteers are doing at the moment:

Ed Beauregared, senior service manager at Telus International Korea: "I've worked on the picnic for the past two years. I will work in the beer tent -- it's the most coveted position."

Na Mi-jin, administrative staff: "This is my first time working with the event. I've worked on online registration. So far I've signed up about 1,000 people."

Fred Yeung, senior management consultant at Telsk: "I'll be doing the 'dirty job.' Six people will start cleaning up at 5 p.m. because of the World Cup Finals."

Adult tickets cost 38,000 won ($32), for children 13-17 they're 25,000 won, children 6-12 10,000 won, kids under 6 free. For registration, contact Grace Na at 02-2259-0604 or e-mail ccck@ccck.org.

by Inēs Cho

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