AMHERST – The return of Pauline Himmelman to Amherst was celebrated yesterday at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
“It’s just wonderful to be here today,” said Himmelman, who now lives in Halifax. “We lived in Amherst 26 years and that’s longer than George (her husband) and I have lived in any place.”
For many, the name Pauline Himmelman may not ring a bell, but the name rings loud and clear for the Cumberland Regional Health Care Auxiliary.
As a former president of the Auxiliary she founded the Highland Fling 30 years ago, and the event has gone on to raise more than $500,000 for the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
“It’s wonderful and nice to see all the organizations who have kept it going over the years are still active in keeping it going today,” said Himmelman.
Himmelman said she came up with the idea of a Highland Fling after seeing how successful Spring Flings were in other community’s throughout Nova Scotia.
“The Highland Fling has evolved and changed, and that’s what has kept it strong,” said Himmelman. “It’s one of the few flings still going, and that’s a credit to the people in Amherst because it takes a lot of help from a lot of people to keep it going.”
Before the Highland Fling started in the early 80’s, the Auxiliary used to host a desert buffet at the United Church. “It made about $1,200,” said Himmelman.
The Highland Fling used to be celebrated at the Amherst Stadium but is now held at the Amherst Curling Club.
Himmelman had a hard time getting chairs and tables for the first fling.
“Blake Daley and Bob Janes helped with chairs,” said Himmelman. “The were very gracious.”
Himmelman fondly remembers lieutenant governors of Nova Scotia opening the Highland Fling on several occasions.
“John Shaffner opened it twice, and the Alan Abraham and his wife came once and James Kinley and his wife Grace came as well,” said Himmelman.
The RCMP dressed in their famous red serge uniforms and the high school band played Oh Canada and God Save the Queen when the Lieutenant governors opened the fling.
“We had Alex Colville (Canadian artist) open it one year,” said Himmelman. “And we had Kelly MacLeod, who was Miss Teen Canada open another year.”
She said kids were very much involved in the early years.
“We had a lot of children involved in a lot of capacities,” she said. “The 4-H Club had a petting zoo when we were at the arena and we had the dog carriage parade, and Highland dancers and cloggers.”
This year’s Highland Fling is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This year’s goal is to raises close to $30,000 for new equipment for the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre’s emergency room.