As the United States and Canada continue their world-leading relationship in trade of goods and services, Myrtle Beach also hoists the Maple Leaf flag, especially every March, to honor all the vacationers from north of the border.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 53rd annual Canadian American Days festival March 7-16, including a series of free concerts across the Grand Strand – 6 p.m. March 10 at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, then taking turns near or at midday March 12-14 at all three area malls. The Burlington Teen Tour Band, a globetrotting marching band from the Hamilton area of Ontario, near Toronto, will entertain at all four sites.
Festive Brass of Myrtle Beach also will perform for free at 3 p.m. March 16 at First United Methodist Church of Myrtle Beach, 901 N. Kings Highway.
Two spokesmen for the chamber – Brad Dickerson and Kema Faulk – looked at some aspects about Can-Am Days and its celebration of Canadians’ culture and appreciation of their presence as a major component of Grand Strand tourism, especially every winter.
Question | Keeping this tradition going, how has Can-Am Days transformed with the times, for it remains a rite of every winter’s end, heralding St. Patrick’s Day and the start of spring?
Dickerson | It really is, and at about this time, we’re starting to see some warmer weather, which is great. It’s a great celebration for our visitors from the North. A lot of them have been coming for decades. Obviously, they have been experiencing a pretty cold winter as a lot of this country has. It gives them a chance to ... see old friends ... and get a break from the cold weather. We want to give them a new experience and a new set of memories to go home with.
Q. | How easily does lining up entertainers, such as the Burlington Teen Tour Band and the siblings of Searson come in the planning for every Can-Am Days?
Dickerson | A lot of them have been coming for years. ... The people at the concerts see them have a great time with us, and we’re always happy to have them back.
Q. | How ideal is the timing for a weekend of St. Patrick’s’ Day festivities?
Dickerson | It’s fantastic. With Can-Am Days going through March 16, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations ... are always a big event in the Myrtle Beach area, ... and we’ll have several major events going on. ... It’s the best of both worlds, and a great way to kick off the spring season.
Q. | Where does marketing of Myrtle Beach target in general?
Dickerson | A lot of the marketing is east of the Mississippi, and into the Toronto area – we’ve had a push up in that area. Also, a lot of the Northeast states have seen a lot of hard winter weather lately. ... We’re always looking to grow our effort in that region.
Q. | With WestJet about to launch its second year of direct flights between Myrtle Beach International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport – starting Thursday with trips on Thursdays and Sundays – how does that help open another channel for easy access to the Grand Strand?
Dickerson | WestJet is starting its service earlier this year, and that’s a great way for promotion of the destinations and to get more folks to come down to see Myrtle Beach. It’s a great partnership to help us for future years.
Q. | When do thoughts about the next year’s Can-Am Days hit your mind?
Faulk | We’re always brainstorming to see what we can do ... to have a different theme so we won’t be repeating the same things every year.
Q. | How much extra red and white for the Maple Leaf flag come out at this time of year?
Faulk | Every year, we order Canadian flags, and lots of Canadian flag lapel pins to give away.
Dickerson | There’s nothing like a nice little memento.
Q. | This year, did watching any of the Olympic hockey – in which the Canadian women’s and men’s teams repeated as gold-medal winners – help fuel enthusiasm for Can-Am Days coming up?
Dickerson | I did keep up with hockey games. It was very exciting, with some great matchups and great games. As I was watching, ... I was thinking about Can-Am Days in the back of my mind.