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Aug. 3, 2020 | Monday
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West Niagara Army Cadets celebrating 50th anniversary
The official anniversary date of 1626 West Niagara Army Cadets Corps is March 17, 1969. (Supplied photo)

1626 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps is celebrating its first big milestone.

West Niagara's unit is inviting alumni and the public to its fundraising event that will happen on March 23, between 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The 19+ event will take place at the Beamsville Legion Branch 612 on 5545 King St. in Beamsville.

There will be two cash bars, raffles and games, prizes, food and guest speakers at the event. Around 200 people are expected to attend, including past alumni, local dignitaries, politicians and business leaders.

Guests are invited to stop by at any time.

“The event starts at 5:30 p.m. but it doesn’t mean they all have to show up at 5:30 p.m. It’s more like a drop-in event,” said West Niagara unit's Capt. Celestino Petrini. “Come to say hello, come to see what we’re doing and come to toast what we’re about to do in the next 50 years.”

The entry fee is a non-perishable food donation that will go to Community Care in Lincoln. Monetary donations will go towards cadets’ training.

“With the events that we offer, activities, community engagements, often the cost to do those with the kids is far more than we get funded,” said Frank Cutruzzola, a civilian instructor at the corps.

1626 corps receive annual funding for each cadet from the federal government through the Department of National Defence.

“Every year, we get a small amount that’s allocated but with the costs what it is today, it’s just small funding from them,” said Cutruzzola.

One of the reasons the event is being held is to thank all alumni for their support.

"They provide donations. They provide locations, like land for usage if it's approved," said Petrini.

Current and past staff members also play a big role in cadets' training.

"Different sets of values and skills that people bring allow the cadets to have a more diverse program," said Petrini.

“The event will be fun. It’s something worth trying out,” Petrini told The Lake Report. “It’s new to us to throw event this big. It's our first big milestone, a recent milestone, so it should be fun.”

West Niagara's unit was originally formed as Grimsby High School Cadet Corps in 1940. When they disbanded in 1968, a new unit was created in 1969 and then another one in 1971. The current 1626 unit came from the amalgamation of the two cadet corps.

The official anniversary date of the 1626 unit is March 17, 1969.