Quirk Works is a South End Community Association initiative which focuses on 'quirky' ways of engaging community members. The most recent event was the "Mad Hatter's Tea Party", an unabashed, and definitely quirky, take-off on Lewis Carroll's famous party. The invitation to the free event said, "Come as you aren't!"
Held at Deverill Park, this year's party was attended by all the usual and unusual suspects. In attendance were the Alices (both the younger and the more "mature" versions), the Red and the White Queens in all their imperial majesty and, of course, Mad Hatter himself.
Taking part in the fun were Queen's Heralds, the Caterpillar, the March Hare and a wonderfully eclectic assortment of guests including Julia Child, the Scottish Chef (serving Nana Shepherd's now famous scones) and local political dignitaries. Delicious tea was served in beautiful (quirky) teapots and cups donated by community members, while dinner-style theatre was led by the Queens and the Mad Hatter.
There were activities for everyone, such as maypole dancing and hat making. The party ended with a Hat Parade during which the Mad Hatter graciously complimented the attributes of each guest's hat, even acknowledging "hair that looked like a hat".
An important acquisition by SECA has been a 1983 step van, known as the "Tea Wagon." South Enders have gussied up the debilitated wagon with paintings of Mad Hatter characters and use the vehicle to transport supplies and equipment for gatherings such as the Tea Party, the Miners Picnic, and local Coffee Houses.
It is also the hot chocolate rallying point for South End Christmas carolers. Great plans are currently hatching for using the Tea Wagon as a costume and props 'tickle trunk' as well as a puppet stage. Since moving to Nanaimo's South End, we have truly felt part of a community for the first time in many years.
Joining SECA has been a way to connect with a diverse group of people sharing common goals and a wonderful sense of fun.
David Scott is with the South End Community Association.
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