This weekend, Vancouver kicks off the summer season of free multicultural events—including June’s upcoming Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival and Greek Day on Broadway—with Italian Day on Commercial Drive, a full day of free fun with Italian food, fashion, entertainment, games, and Euro Cup 2012 festivities that will transform the always-happening Drive into a street fair for all ages.
Newcomers to Vancouver may be surprised to learn that Commercial Drive—today an urban hub of multiculturalism and counterculture—used to be Vancouver’s “Little Italy;” you can see evidence of that cultural history in the Drive’s large number of Italian restaurants and delis (not to mention the wide spread support for Italy during the World Cup). For 15 years, from 1977 – 1982, Italian Day was an annual tradition on the Drive, but the event went on hiatus after the crowds became too much for the original organizers to handle.
Thankfully, Italian Day made its comeback in 2010, and over 50,000 people came out to celebrate. Now, thanks to Mayor Robertson’s 2011 designation of June as Italian Heritage Month, Italian Day on Commercial Drive looks like it’s here to stay!