A personal project: Peewee, 5 years on

A much loved community matriarch died in 2013. Mourned by many, that community came together to arrange an annual charity fundraiser in her honour. I have photographed that event every year.

This year sees the fifth Peewee Memorial event. I wanted to mark it with something special.

This annual event is a charity bike ride, followed by a party. The ride raises money for a variety of causes. It is organized by a local motorcycle club, the NBS Riders. Like most such clubs, NBS raises money year round and are very active in the community. Their donations have helped many.

After the ride comes the gathering. Sometimes, there is a bonfire. Sometimes, a pig roast. Sometimes, overnight camping. There is always live music, and food, more fundraising. There are tears and laughter as friends and family remember Peewee and share stories well into the night. Those that didn’t know her will, before they leave. This is a community. They are ALL family. Even the new faces.

I have a library of photos going back to the very first event. Each year, Nikki and I attend, and I spend a day and a night photographing the festivities. I spend another day and a night editing the photos. For the last 3 years I have posted them to my site for anyone that cares to see. It’s my contribution. You can see them, here, if you wish. No charge for any of this, of course. This is a charity event.

This year, I chose to make something of those memories. Something physical. In Photoshop I made a template and laid out my grid. Pulling photos from my library, I made a 16 x 20 collage of my favourite photos from all the events. Much juggling later, it was complete. I printed it, and it looked great.

At the first weekly Bike Night of the 2019 season, club members and visitors gathered. I had planned on a quiet private presentation to Peewee’s daughter, as my personal gift. I was not allowed to do that. It was instead announced, and I awkwardly presented it in front of an audience. She cried. Actually, several cried. The poster was passed around, raising smiles. I’ve been asked for prints. I’ll happily take the praise and the publicity, sure, but I hadn’t planned for it. My aim was to bring back some happy memories for Peewee’s daughter, Lori. To let her know that 5 years on, we remember.

Here is how I laid out the collage.

Before her death I had captured a wonderful image of Peewee, looking up at the sun and smiling with the sheer joy of being alive – even though she knew at the time that she wouldn’t see out the Summer.

She would have loved the annual memorial and laughed to see the fun being had in her name. I put that photo at bottom left. She’s looking right at the party goers with love and affection, smiling and laughing with them. First in her line of sight are her daughter and grandson. Close friends and other family. These are surrounded by happy smiling faces – I left no room for sadness in this poster.

To balance this, I added my simple message: “Love survives”. And it is true. Love does survive.

Look at this, 5 years on. Those that come out every year could stay home and party, save their money and their time. They don’t. Many, like myself, have never missed an event. And won’t.

NBS Riders, Peewee memorial 2018

The fifth Peewee Memorial Ride takes place this year on Saturday 1st of June. I will be there with my cameras. If you want to join the ride, registration is between 9 and 11 am at the S-Bend Restaurant in Ridgeway, Highway 3. The $20 registration fee includes lunch. If you want to know more, check out the event Facebook page for a map and contact details.

If you want to stay for the party, the ride ends this year at Moe’s Tap and Wings in Port Colborne. Entertainment includes raffles, prizes, and music from Barracuda Pretty, a damn good local band. Join the growing number – several hundred – that turn out each year for a great morning, afternoon, or evening. Or all three. You may even get your photo featured in the next poster I make, 5 years from now. Who knows?

All I know is that each year there are more people, and I take more photos.
I’m an event photographer. This, I can do. So this, I do. For Peewee.

2 comments

  1. Love you so much Carl. I cried again while reading this. It means so much to me to be surrounded by my tribe. Friends and family and friends who have become family….all in memory of my beautiful momma. I visited her today at the cemetary. I feel her with us as we prepare for this year’s event. I couldn’t imagine being able to do this without the ongoing love support and contributions of people like Nikki and you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *