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Summer dance coming to Tipperary Park

Diane Haynes, right, organizer of next Thursday
Diane Haynes, right, organizer of next Thursday's Midsummer's Night Dance hangs decorations in Tipperary Park with Royal City Farmers Market manager Melissa Maltais and her son Logan, and graphic artist Johanna Bartels. The dance will follow the weekly market and run from 7 to 10 p.m.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

One of Hollywood's tricks to glamourize small-town America life is placing characters in outdoor summer dances at night.

People are carefree as they move to music under lights and decorations strung from tree to tree.

Diane Haynes wants to make that atmosphere a reality in New Westminster next Thursday.

It all came about when Haynes was discussing a weekly dance event with her friend Melissa Maltais, manager of the Royal City Farmers Market, several months ago.

"Wouldn't it be great to do something outdoors," Maltais said to Haynes.

That immediately evoked a vision Haynes just couldn't shake. So she did something about it.

"I saw the whole thing in my head. The sparkly lights in the trees, the families with kids dancing, people from Century House coming to dance, aunts and uncles coming to dance," says Haynes, founder of Royal City Writers. "I just let the idea percolate for a while."

dance posterWhat she came up with was A Midsummer Night's Dance. It will happen on the grass of Tipperary Park next Thursday (July 24) from 7 to 10 p.m. It will follow the weekly farmers market.

To make it happen, Haynes applied for a Vancouver Foundation neighourhood small grant and got it. She also got Maltais and graphic artist Johanna Bartels to help her out. DJ Gab, who does a weekly gig on Friday nights at River Market, will provide the music. The Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association and the River Market have also provided support.

The farmers market seemed like the ideal match, a place Haynes has frequented many times over the years.

"It feels like a mini-festival every week, which I love," says Haynes. "These are people who get out in their community, who support their community. It also tends to be families who attend the market together and I really want to take advantage of those families being there already and be in the park and have their family dinner together and then dance. It just lets people stay rather than having them go home."

She and Maltais are hoping some of the vendors, especially those selling food, will stick around.

Haynes said she was a little nervous to ask the city whether they could dance on the grass and string lights and decorations from tree to tree, but they said, "Sure, go ahead."

As the title suggests, organizers want dancers to take their attire cues from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and dress in "a magical woodland theme." There will be a kids costume parade early in the evening.

Although it's free, the organizers would like the dancers to pre-register. The first 100 will receive a "swag bag" of gifts from New Westminster businesses.

That can be done through eventbrite.ca. Dance information is also available at facebook.com/amidsummernightsdance. Organizers are also looking for volunteers for the event.

• Maltais said the initial appearance of Pacific Breeze winery at last week's farmers market was so successful they ran out of product and had to go back to get more. She said the winery was so pleased with the response they intend to be at every market this summer. Steel & Oak brewery was scheduled to have a booth at this week's market.

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