The Sarnia Legion is expected to be hopping this First Friday with two popular attractions – the Mark Blaney Trio and a brand new bar.
The new bar in the downstairs Club Room at 286 Front St. North was built almost entirely by volunteers using $15,000 raised by Chrissy McRoberts, a veteran, a Legion member and a city councillor.
“It’s fairly unique that a member will raise that much money and take care of a project from start to finish,” said Les Jones, president of Sarnia Legion Branch 62.
“The bar has a totally new look, is very modern and fresh, and much more efficient,” he added.
McRoberts said the old bar looked fine to patrons but was poorly designed “in the back of the house” and in dire need of an update.
“The Legion rarely spends money on itself because it’s always giving to the community,” she said. “That’s why I took this on, but it was very much a team effort.”
McRoberts, who builds furniture for a living, collected donations from local businesses, friends and community and designed the new bar herself. She and Ron Champagne of B & R Carpentry chipped in an additional $5,000 to get the job done.
The new bar top is natural wood with a durable epoxy finish displaying the logos of the business donors who helped get the bar rebuilt. A collection of special issue toonies with military themes is also embedded in the epoxy.
“It came together better than I hoped,” McRoberts said. “It’s a huge change and I think it’s a point of pride for the Legion.” Pitching in to help were B&R Carpentry, Les Jones, John Surins, Lucy Thornton, Kyle Jones, Curtis Cataford and Chris Mills.
The new bar will be in use for First Friday festivities Jan. 6 when the Mark Blaney Trio takes the stage from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Admission is free. The Legion is one of the few downtown venues to offer a dance floor, noted President Jones.
First Friday is also a busy night over at 127 Christina St. South where the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts has a full line up of music and art.
The annual Floyd Gibson Members’ Show opens with the presentation of the Mayor’s Awards at 7 p.m. The show is in memory of a local teacher, artist and Lawrence House volunteer. Its nearly 30 pieces have been juried by Sonya Blazek, Jane Hunter and Mary Kilbreath.
Anyone who can’t make it to the First Friday opening can enjoy the Floyd Gibson Show until Jan. 27.
First Friday entertainment at the Lawrence House features Doug Hacking in the Turret Room on the piano from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
First Friday cultural walkabout is a monthly tradition in downtown Sarnia. Local businesses remain open through the evening offering patrons a full roster of live music and art. The pandemic interrupted First Fridays but they resumed in the fall and are gaining momentum again, according to organizer Leonard Segall.
Jan. 6 First Friday activities include:
• Ups N' Downs has live music with the Martones, Dave Thomas on keyboard and vocals and Wulf von Waldow on sax from 8 - 11 PM. Admission is free. 226 Front St. N.
• Greens Organics Cafe has live music by Sun in Scorpio from 6 - 8 PM and feature artist of the month Isabelle Elise. Admission is free. 196 Christina St N
• Collide Lounge features live music from 8 - 11 PM. Admission is free. 148 Front St N
• The Elemental Arts Collective hosts a Full Moon Event featuring knot magic, guided meditation and a mini-tarot reading at 5:30 PM. Pre-registration is required at [email protected]. $30. 140 Christina St. N.
Feel free to send your ideas to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal for coverage of local cultural events.