Lorne Chan dips partner Tracie Ashcroft as they dance to The Commodores big band Sunday at Willows Park during the Oak Bay Tea Party.

Oak Bay Tea Party, version 51, in the books

Beautiful weather helps bring happy crowds to Willows Park for annual Oak Bay event



It was tough to peel the grin off Bill Murphy-Dyson’s face Sunday as he stood in the late afternoon sun listening to The Commodores entertain the crowd at Willows Park.

As the clock wound down on the 51st edition of the Oak Bay Tea Party, Murphy-Dyson, the event’s organizing committee chair, was hard-pressed to list anything that didn’t turn out well over the weekend.

“The weather’s been great, the people were great and everyone was happy,” he said. Pondering for a moment, he added, “But there was one scary moment.”

He described how, with 15 minutes to go before the annual air show in front of Willows Beach on Sunday, organizers couldn’t find air traffic controller Randy MacKenzie.

“He just disappeared,” Murphy-Dyson said.

After calling his name on the public address system and sending out a search party, MacKenzie was located riding the Zipper with his daughter.

“They gave him an extra long ride since he was a volunteer,” Murphy-Dyson said with a smile. “That’s one of the great things about Tea Party, people appreciate the work of the volunteers.”

The air show came off on time and without a hitch.

Other highlights saw newly minted Victoria MP Murray Rankin beat Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen comfortably to take the teacup race title on Sunday.

For the foodies in the crowd, the cooking of extra roasts by the Royal Oak Lions for the ever-popular baron of beef sandwiches satisfied those who left their lunching until late on the final day.

The midway drew a sizeable crowd as it opened for the first time at Willows Park on the Friday night for the Tea Party.

Saturday morning, hundreds of onlookers gathered along the parade route before the fair opened, taking in what has arguably become the biggest community procession outside of the Victoria Day parade.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com

Party favours

• During Saturday’s Oak Bay Tea Party parade, chair Bill Murphy-Dyson picked up a plastic tricycle from a small child who was getting tired trying to keep up with her mom. Except they never retrieved the bike, he says. They can find out how to reach him by visiting oakbayteaparty.com.

• Oak Bay police report that residents did a good job keeping parked vehicles off the parade route. Officers responded to only a few liquor-related calls and made one drug seizure over the weekend.

• The bike parking area manned by Oak Bay Bikes volunteers helped reduce the number of vehicles in the immediate area, Murphy-Dyson said.