The original plan for Debbie Caines was to spend three weeks, including this one, relaxing and sunning herself in Mexico.
Instead, she changed her plans when she realized they conflicted with Corner Brook Winter Carnival.
She was not going to miss this for the world.
If she has her druthers, she won’t miss another one for as long as she is able to make the journey back to her beloved hometown from her current home in Calgary.
Caines actually travels to Corner Brook several times a year, but 2018 was the first time she has been in the city for the annual carnival since she left in 1977. Back then, the annual carnival was still in its relative infancy.
“I just wanted to be here,” she said. “I’ve travelled a lot and I’ve moved a lot through the years and there is no place like Corner Brook.
“That’s probably because it’s home, but I just love it here. … People tend to see the negative but, when you’re away and come home, you realize just how beautiful it is here.”
This year, she convinced her twin sister, Dianne, to also make the trip home. Dianne, who returns to Corner Brook every summer, had not been home during the winter, let alone during winter carnival time, in around 30 years.
“I just wanted to come so bad,” said Dianne, who also lives in Calgary. “I didn’t want her to have all the fun without me.”
Debbie tried her best to keep Dianne’s return home for carnival under wraps so it would be a surprise for the rest of their family. The fact she ordered an extra advance ticket for as many carnival events as they could get to may have given the secret away, said their sister, Annette Murphy.
“We were hoping we were correct in guessing Dianne was coming as a surprise,” said Murphy, who lives in Corner Brook. “She kept saying she would explain why she wanted that fourth ticket when she got here.”
Debbie’s newfound love for the carnival experience happened after she attended the carnival dance event hosted by the N.L. West SPCA last year. Rescuing and rehoming unwanted pets is an issue near and dear to all the sisters and she had so much fun participating in that event, she wanted to try nearly everything carnival has to offer.
This year, they’ve been to the SPCA dance, a variety show, Family Fun Day at Margaret Bowater Park and Hottest Man for the Coldest Season. They plan to take in carnival concerts tonight and Saturday.
They’ve found it hard to get to a breakfast, but plan to check that off their list this morning.
They did have tickets to a cod dinner earlier in the week, but had to pass when their brother, Jim, hosted a family dinner the same night.
But it’s not all about carnival.
With their parents, John and Holly, in their 90s now, the sisters have really been intent on spending as much quality time with them, too.
They’ve vowed to not make this the last carnival they attend together.
“It would be great to make it an annual event and have us all together each year,” said Murphy.
The women say they will most definitely be back for the 50th Corner Brook Winter Carnival in 2021 and the special time that promises to be.
Debbie wants to introduce her three grandchildren to the celebration of winter in western Newfoundland, a place they have never been.
“I’m hoping someday in the next while I can bring them with me and start a new tradition with them,” she said.