CORNER BROOK — When it comes to the question of what Corner Brook Winter Carnival means to the community, Dave Elms is the perfect person to provide the answer.
For the last 21 years, Elms has donned a helmet and big fur vest to take on the persona of Leif the Lucky, the Viking mascot of the 10-day festival.
With the opening of carnival set for tonight, Elms was at the Corner Brook Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon at the Glynmill Inn on Thursday to talk about carnival.
Elms looked up the definition of carnival in the dictionary and found that it is a period of public revelry, an exciting or riotous mixture of something.
And while Corner Brookers aren’t known to riot during carnival, Elms said. “We do have a lot of exciting things, a lot of exciting somethings that we can get involved in.”
The list he quickly rhymed off, without so much as taking a breath, includes games, variety shows, skating, skiing, bowling, craft fairs, dances, bobsledding, lip syncing, family day in the park, beard growing, arm wrestling (which is making a comeback this year), concerts and spelling bees.
“On top of all that, there is food galore,” he said, noting the breakfasts and the lunches and dinners of chili, baked beans, meatballs, soup and jiggs dinner.
“These are the many things that make up carnival,” said Elms. “But what does our winter festival really mean to us as a community?
“If I was to sum it all up, carnival is a bringing together of individuals, whether local or from around the world, to take part in basically a social gathering which is winter carnival.”
Elms also shared stories of how carnival has impacted him and others.
“It’s not just a winter carnival. It’s a way of life. It’s a part of us,” he said. “I think it’s part of the iron that keeps our blood strong.
“When it comes down to it, it helps define us as a community,” he said. “That’s, I think, what carnival really means — it’s all community. It’s not just a time. It is the time of our lives.”
The 42nd Corner Brook Winter Carnival gets underway tonight with a flag raising and torch lighting at city hall at 6:15 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. a torch relay along the Corner Brook Stream Trail will lead people to Margaret Bowater Park for the official opening at 7 p.m.
It’s at the park that Elms, or rather Leif the Lucky, will emerge from his hut to declare the celebration open.