“St. Urho’s Day is a fun way to appreciate our rich Finnish heritage and the developing traditions of the Finnish Diaspora. I am incredibly proud to represent one of the largest Finnish communities outside of Finland, and we are incredibly fortunate that Finns have called Northwestern Ontario home for more than 100 years.” said Hyer.
In Thunder Bay, St. Urho’s Day celebrations take place on the first Saturday after March 16th every year. The holiday pays tribute to St. Urho, who, according to the humorous legend, drove the grasshoppers out of Finland’s vineyards almost 400 years ago, singlehandedly saving the wine harvest.
Today, parades are held in Finnish communities across the US and Canada, often featuring a mascot dressed as a giant grasshopper with participants wearing green and purple.
“Like the Finns, I like my wine free of grasshoppers,” said Hyer. “Although I will be stuck in Ottawa this year, I will be raising a glass to St. Urho and I encourage everyone – whether they are Finnish or they just wish they were – to participate in the festivities.”
A Friday night fundraising dance is being held at the Finlandia Hall at 9:00pm in support of FinnThunder 2012, the annual Finnish Canadian Grand Festival. Thunder Bay’s St. Urho’s Day Parade will start at noon on Saturday March 17, leaving from Bay Street in front of the Hoito Restaurant. Following the parade, festivities will had at the Finlandia Club. Admission is free.