Rockport’s 1st Annual Prohibition Days the Bees Knees

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by Lorraine Payette, written August 18, 2013

“They can play the bugle call like you’ve never heard before
Sounds so natural that you’ll wanna go to war
That’s just the best band in the land …”
– Alexander’s Rag Time Band

(ROCKPORT, ONTARIO) Hot cha! Grease his palm with silver, and the bull will sleep all night while you and your gal slip into the speakeasy for a taste of bathtub gin and some smokin’ hot blues. But wake him up, and it’s twenty-three skidoo!

During the 1st Annual Rockport Prohibition Days, August 16-18, all the gangsters and molls, flappers and eggs, sheiks and shebas came out to indulge. Even the little guys brought their baby dolls along for a taste of the action.

“We’ve always loved the 1920s and all it stood for,” said Phyllis Chipman of the committee. “And what better way to celebrate than with an annual Prohibition Days festival?”

The event had everything an aficionado of Prohibition could want. From a Flappers Fashion Show accompanied by Doug Gifford on piano to great jazz with the Brian Downey Band on opening night, then all manner of entertainments the following day including Dreams In Motion dancers to swing dancers, a corn and dog roast, Café Gananoque, antique cars and all kinds of rum runners delights, from the Hal McCarney and Moose McCarney run/walks to a Rum Runners Challenge at Ed Huck Marine and a 3-hour Boot Legger Boat Cruise with the Rockport Boat Line. There was all day Sunday to sober up with a good old-fashioned church picnic and antique boat show.

Folks came dressed in their best – flapper gowns and zoot suits, gangster wear and ice cream suits paraded the streets. Boas and tiaras, fedoras and dark glasses, everyone was sporting their finest duds.

The event is free and open to the public, with a controlled beer tent and paid bar and restaurant. Based on ideas from the book, “Chess with Violence: Rum-Running in the Thousand Islands”, the event is planned to go for many years into the future. According to a member of the committee, McCarney is best known throughout the region for all of his contributions to the community and its people, and it seemed only fitting to pay tribute to him with a great family event of this type.

And somewhere, they say, Hal “Moose” McCarney was raising a glass and joining right in on the fun.

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