This time last year, Prince Rupert was bustling with excitement, the restaurants and hotels full, the stores jammed with shoppers the vibe one of camaraderie, that of a reunion, of the big event.
One year ago, you couldn't find a parking spot at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre unless you arrived early in the day. Fast Forward one year, the same parking lot is a vast expanse of empty spaces, the visual testimony to the cancellation of the All Native Basketball Tournament.
|An unusual sight and never more so than during the week
of the All Native Basketball Tournament, there is plenty of
parking available these days at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre
One of, if not the most anticipated events on the civic calendar was supposed to take place this past week.
The 62nd edition of the annual All Native Basketball Tournament to be the host for a return of familiar faces from the many Nations of British Columbia, Alaska and sometimes beyond, as well as to provide for the introductions to new ones, as new legends were created on the hardwood of the Russell Gamble Gymnasium.
COVID-19 took that away from Prince Rupert this year, much like it has taken away many other activities and changed our lives in many cases forever.
The loss of the week long celebration however is more than just the suspension of a high tempo basketball tournament, but the deferral for a year of the sharing of friendships and tradition.
The travellers to the city bringing excitement to the sporting venues and the community, as well as making for one of the largest injections of cash to the local business community that the city sees each year.
The annual week one that is a mixture of Sport, Culture and even a little Prince Rupert style Mardi Gras, one that ensures that Prince Rupert remains a destination every February, one where champions earn their trophies in hard fought competition and the fans do much more than just watch some basketball.
Earlier this week, Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain observed on the cancellation through his Social Media feed, noting of the spirit of the event and the celebration of sport and culture it brings.
The organizers of this years event delayed their decision to cancel as long as possible, the coronavirus did not cooperate, it remains with us today, currently at its most dramatic turn for the city yet.
While we have many things to think of at the moment when it comes to our concerns over COVID, the loss of a long standing tradition, even if for just one year hopefully, should be noted.
The silence of the week one hopes is but a historical but temporary moment, with Prince Rupert ready to welcome back its guests once again in 2022.
The ANBT Facebook page is offering up an ongoing collage of images from last year's event, with the occasional comment of sadness at how the events of the world have led to this years suspension.
This weekend would have brought us the Big Finales, the Russell Gamble Gymnasium rocking to its rafters, this Saturday night it will be dark and silent.
That doesn't seem right and as a community the absence should indeed make one's heart grow fonder.
Til next year ...