LEAD aims to put Lake’s best foot forward

Lake Cowichan’s friendliest citizens are needed to help out during

Lake Cowichan’s friendliest citizens are needed to help out during what is sure to be the town’s biggest influx of visitors in years — maybe ever.

The Lake Economic and Activity Development group is seeking volunteers to serve as community ambassadors during the Sunfest weekend, providing directions and information to the many festival-goers expected to fill the town each day.

Maureen Loebus is coordinating the ambassador program, which she refers to as Boots on the Beat because the volunteers will be patrolling assigned parts of South Shore Road in downtown Lake Cowichan, ready to help out anyone in need of assistance.

“Their job is to be visible on the street with information about any store or services in town. And what’s happening. What’s the entertainment,” said Loebus, referring to some of the activities LEAD has planned, such as concerts and beer tents.

Her team is creating bright yellow carrying bags with “ASK ME” silk-screened on the sides for ambassadors to hold maps and pamphlets. They will also have similar “ASK ME” tags for their hats.

The ambassadors will be on the streets from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Friday to Sunday, July 29 to 31.

LEAD is seeking locals who can sign up for two-hour shifts on one or more of those days.

“[It’s important] to show the best side of town is friendly people. Extend a welcome and share our joy of living in a small community,” said Loebus.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome, and they will work in pairs.

Betty Riel is the coordinator for all LEAD volunteers and said the group needs ambassadors more than any other type of volunteer. She said having community members available to assister out-of-towners is key to making Sunfest a success for Lake Cowichan.

“Our message is ‘people are coming,’” said Riel. “There’s going to be thousands of people. Not just Sunfest people either, because that particular weekend is the biggest weekend already of the summer because it’s the long weekend.”

She said the crowds are inevitable, so it comes down to whether or not locals want to facilitate the best possible experience for visitors.

In addition to ambassadors on the streets, there will be information kiosks set up in four locations that weekend: at the entrance to town (by Neva Road), the Duck Pond, the seniors centre and Lake Cowichan School.

Riel said anyone interested in signing up to be an ambassador can do so at the visitor information centre at Saywell Park or by contacting the LEAD group through its Facebook page.

“Our goal with the ambassadors is to showcase our little community that a lot of people will have never been [to] before, and we want them to leave with a good impression,” said Riel. “We want them to leave thinking, ‘What a neat little town.’ Not ‘Wow, there was nothing to do there.’”