BOW VALLEY – Remembrance Day ceremonies this year will look different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bow Valley's three Royal Canadian Legion branches have scaled down plans for 2020 to respect public health guidelines, and provide safe events for veterans and their families.
In Banff, the Col. Moore Branch #26 has a limited ceremony planned, which will be streamed live on Facebook at 11 a.m.
"We are asking the public not to attend," said executive member Hugh Pettigrew. "The parade has been cancelled by command."
In years past, the Banff Legion's events for Nov. 11 involved local schools, but with an infectious disease in the mix, those ceremonies will not occur.
Pettigrew said the executive will be present and wreaths will be pre-laid on the cenotaph. Those wishing to purchase a wreath can still do so for $55 through the Legion.
In Exshaw, Legion #179 has cancelled its annual social, but is still serving a ham and scalloped potato dinner at 5 p.m., with the option for takeout.
"This year we have to do things differently," said executive member Lynne Ward. "It would be nice to have our full service, but since we cannot have everyone here, we have opted to have an outside service only."
The outside service will be held at 2 p.m. and will see wreaths pre-laid, as well as some placed on the memorial during the ceremony.
Ward said usually the Legion has several speakers, but that won't happen this year. The flag will be lowered, roll call made, the anthem and God Save the Queen will be sung.
"We want to pay our respects to our fallen comrades and it is unfortunate we cannot do it to the full extent that we would like to," she said.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch #3 in Canmore is also planning a scaled back service.
Executive member Chris Vincent said the community is invited to pay its respects in a different way this year.
"We would like people, who want to pay their respects, to come down between Sunday to Wednesday and take a quiet moment," Vincent said.
Canmore residents can pay their respects at the Legion cenotaph, or at the two Fields of Honour at the local cemetery.
"That is a nice spot for a quiet moment to pay respect," Vincent said.
A small ceremony on Nov. 11 will be live streamed on Facebook. Anyone who attends is asked to respect social distancing guidelines.
Traditionally the Legion events involves a ceremony at the nearby Lawrence Grassi Middle School, but that has been cancelled.
"All the wreaths have been pre-laid this year outside and we will do the act of Remembrance at 11 a.m.," Vincent said.
A prayer will be said by Rev. Betty Piwowar and a colour party will be presented. Afterwards, a small ceremony will also be held at the Field of Honour.
"The plan, as it stands, is the Legion will be open after the ceremony for veterans and members and immediate family only," Vincent said. "We want to create a safe environment for any older veterans who have chosen to come down."
The poppy campaign in each community is also in full swing. They are available at each Legion, at some local businesses and being sold at local grocery stores over the weekend.
This year there is a cashless donation option available through a QR code as well.