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Canada Day celebrations to bridge holiday weekend with July Fourth

Canada Day this Sunday means patriotism, picnics and parties will be evident across the border, and Americans are welcome as active and passive participants – from concerts at the Mather Arch park near the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie to a gathering at the Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse on the U.S. side of the Niagara River to watch the fireworks display on the opposite shore.

"That's the perfect place to do the fireworks. In some ways it's sort of a metaphor for what the region is like," said Kerry Mitchell, manager of foreign policy and diplomacy services for the Canadian Consulate, "I think the yearning to enjoy it kind of reflects the close friendship."

Monday is a Canadian national holiday and Canadians may take the opportunity to cross the bridges to the United States to visit and shop.

For those on this side of the border who must wait for Wednesday for the July 4 holiday, Mitchell recommended the concerts and festivities that begin this weekend and go on through Monday at the Friendship Festival and Mather's Arch, a park on Lake Shore Road in Fort Erie.

"I think Canada Day is certainly a wonderful time to be thinking about the cross-border relationship," said Mitchell, "as we celebrate 200 years of peace."

The festival – for more information, visit www.friendshipfestival.com – started Friday and continues in the days ahead with 27 bands scheduled to play, midway rides, a powwow, talent show, dog diving contest and a chalk drawing competition.

"It's going to be cool to see the talents that we have around the Niagara region," said Lauren Fyke, an event production assistant.

In Buffalo, the second annual "Light up the Wright" party at 7 p.m. is a $5 donation for adults and free for children.

There will be a disc jockey music, beer, wine, hamburgers and hot dogs. The limit is 400 people and reservations are required, Call 202-0502.

"We want to get new people down here," said Anne McCooey, executive director of the Fontana Boathouse.

"It's pretty simple, pretty straightforward and lots of fun."

email: mkearns@buffnews.com