A Montreal New Year's tradition 62 years strong
Annual party started in 1950 for injured war veterans
A Montreal New Year’s tradition now 62 years old is still going strong thanks to the man who started it all back in 1950, Joseph Mell.
Mell, a veteran of the Korean War, returned home to Montreal with a strong desire to continue serving in some capacity. So he organized a New Year's party for his fellow veterans at Ste-Anne’s Hospital in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.
He’s been throwing his annual party ever since.
“We haven't missed one for 62 years and it's a pretty fair record,” Mell told CBC News.
The show, which brings together musicians and Irish traditional dancers, gives the mostly elderly patients a break from their regular routine and puts a smile on their faces.
“People are in bed at that age, their friends are gone and we give them a chance to enjoy New Year's for a couple of hours,” says Mell.
Aindriu MacGabbhan, a singer-songwriter known to Montreal’s Irish music scene as Belfast Andi, has been celebrating New Years with Mell and the hospital’s veterans for 17 years. Providing them with some entertainment is the least he can do, he says.
“Just meeting people and hearing their stories and walking around the wards and seeing people who’ve done so much for all of us, a little bit of music can make them so happy,” he says.
MacGabbhan says it's about honouring a generation that served its country so selflessly.
“These people have been through so much, they didn't have to be in Europe fighting or Korea, you know, so it's just giving a little back to the older folk,” he says.
And that’s not all partygoers get: Mell makes sure to arrange for gifts, ensuring that everyone gets a two or three, along with soft drinks and candies.