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After being told he had been selected as the patron for this year’s Corner Brook Winter Carnival, Dr. Bob Sexton did a little bit of research on the past patrons.
“That was quite enlightening,” said the Corner Brook dentist from one of the exam rooms at the Humber Valley Dental Clinic.
Now he’ll be among that list and said it will be a privilege to be a part of that group.
Sexton remembered most of the past patrons, with Bud Dunphy standing out the most. That’s because Dunphy was part of the Marble Mountain Ski Club when Sexton joined many years ago.
Carnival actually grew out of an event started by the ski club some 57 years ago.
Back then a lot of things happened at Marble, with fireworks and the Old Sam Race.
Sexton said the Old Sam Race was in integral part of the original carnival.
It was started by Dr. Bob McLeod, who always said he couldn’t win a race and decided to design one he could.
“But it didn’t work either,” Sexton said with a laugh.
The 57th running of the race will take place Feb. 28 and Sexton will be there as he has been for the last 49 years.
“The selection is very, very difficult at times. There are so, so many people out there that are worthy of being patron.”
-Dawn King, president of Corner Brook Winter Carnival Inc.
Sexton was born and raised in the city and has been practising for 51 years.
Dentistry wasn’t his first career choice though. He started out studying engineering and, with a year still left to go, got to thinking he wanted to do something else.
“To be my own boss. So, I switched over to dentistry.”
Now working part-time, Sexton said he’ll miss it when the time comes to fully retire.
He said he’ll miss the people, the patients.
“In an average day, you’ve got 10 to 12 different personalities in front of you. And hopefully they learn from me, but I learn from them.”
After living and working in the city for so long, to be selected as the patron is an honour, he said.
“It’s the 49th year and Vera (his wife) and I have never missed going out to two or three meals, we do that every carnival," he noted. “And we go to some of the entertainment, but the food is certainly a big attraction.”
This year, he knows that he’ll be busier with lots of other things to keep him going during the 10 days from Feb. 21-March 1.
Corner Brook Winter Carnival runs from Feb. 21-March 1.
Corner Brook Winter Carnival is in the process of compiling a list of past patrons. Here’s the list from 2019-1998:
- 2019 — George Sheppard
- 2018 — David Smallwood
- 2017 — Elaine Fost
- 2016 — Shirley Brake
- 2015 — Seumas Gibbons
- 2014 — Mary Young
- 2013 — Lenny Benoit
- 2012 — Henry Pinhorn
- 2011 — Jeannette Christopher
- 2010 — Bill Madore
- 2009 — Beverly Smith
- 2008 — Gaylene Buckle
- 2007 — Bazel Buckle
- 2006 — Ned Boland
- 2005 — Linda Roche
- 2004 — Leo Hepditch
- 2003 — Clyde Way
- 2002 — Ford and Kathleen Neal
- 2001 — Mabel Dunphy
- 2000 — Danny Kane
- 1999 — Dave Pardy
- 1998 — Myra Joseph
Source: Corner Brook Winter Carnival
Choosing a carnival patron is not an easy process
“I’m just glad it’s not my decision,” said Dawn King with a laugh, when asked to explain the process of selecting a carnival patron.
King is president of Corner Brook Winter Carnival Inc. and chair of transportation for the carnival committee.
It all starts with a call for nominations.
“And we get a lot of nominations,” she said.
They come from members of the board, from committee members and from the public – who can all nominate multiple people. The number varies from year to year and often the same people are nominated over and over.
All nominations are reviewed by the carnival committee, which narrows the list down to a Top 5.
“The selection is very, very difficult at times,” said King. “There are so, so many people out there that are worthy of being patron.”
She said that includes people out there doing their part for the community, not just for winter carnival.
The board will then vote on the Top 5 to choose a patron and the person is asked whether or not they accept the role.