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Hill Life & People

Last Heyman Fourth of July bash one for the books

By Chelsea Nash      
Vicki and Bruce Heyman, U.S. Ambassador, hang out with a Harley on display for their Fourth of July party. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia
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Ambassadors, diplomats, politicians, media types, and American expats all donned their finest red, white, and blue or American-themed attire (one guest wore a Coca-Cola branded dress) for likely the biggest Independence Day celebration in Canada.

With the impending American election and the end of President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, so too approaches the end of Bruce and Vicki Heyman’s tenure as America’s ambassadorial team to Canada.

After being stuffed full of crab cakes, cajun catfish, pulled pork sliders, and the famous Eli’s cheesecake imported from Chicago specifically for the event every year, guests at the Fourth of July bash hosted by the American couple at their Lornado residence on Monday were very likely chanting in their heads: “four more years!”

“What a year, what a term, and what a week,” Ms. Heyman exclaimed in her remarks to the crowd of over 3,500 guests on her front lawn, going on to remind everyone of the love Mr. Obama felt for Canada on his visit to the city just last week. The speeches from her and Mr. Heyman were kept short; they knew they couldn’t compete with four gourmet food tents, which were catered by the Westin Hotel, and served up by head chef Kenton Leier.

The road trip theme added a touch of classic Americana to the evening, with vintage cars and motorcycles  greeting guests as they made their way up the path to the residence. A turquoise Thunderbird caught Party Central’s eye.

Trees throughout the property had framed vintage posters of American landmarks, such as national parks. A display of vintage postcards sent from different places in the United States, with real handwritten notes on the backs of them, were on display under a tent lined with lights next to the residence. Guests could walk through the tent and appreciate the stunning view of the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills that Lornado backs onto.

As guests made their way around the perimeter, their first interaction was quite probably at one of the drink tents, where American and Canadian beers (including Molson Canadian) were being served. Other beers offered included Samuel Adams, Budweiser, and Yuengling Traditional Lager, from a brewery that markets itself as America’s oldest.

Next up was locating the food, and that certainly wasn’t hard. Lines were long, but they moved quickly, and some guests had it down to a science: bringing their food from one tent into the line for the next, ensuring a seamless meal. Members of the Governor General’s foot guard were lined up for food, as was Ottawa mayor Jim Watson. The Ottawa Citizen’s Kady O’Malley and Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford were spotted braving the crowds together. Speaking of the PMO, top adviser Gerald Butts was in attendance, with a small crowd of people waiting to talk to him almost at all times.

The entire diplomatic corps was invited for an exclusive pre-party, which was served by Cellar 82 out of the Airstream trailer. Later on, the trailer appeared to be transformed into a lounge. 

Toronto band The Digs was on hand to rock the party, opening with on-theme song, Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane. It was no wonder they were invited back for a second year in a row, having a special on-theme old-school American vibe. Canadian Press reporter Terry Pedwell was spotted tearing up the dance floor with his spouse, and later on, Mr. and Ms. Heyman did the same. Heritage Parliamentary Secretary Randy Boissonnault also joined in. 

Security, including RCMP officers, were vigilantly watching the scene the whole evening, with officers posted on the rooftop and vans with cameras posted around the grounds.

Also spotted amongst the crowd was languages commissioner Graham Fraser, Huffington Post bureau chief Althia Raj, House of Commons communications director Heather Bradley, Joe Clark’s daughter and television broadcaster Catherine Clark, deputy minister of health Simon Kennedy, national director of the NDP Karl Bélanger, and the CBC’s Julie Van Dusen and Rosie Barton.  

cnash@hilltimes.com

@chels_nash

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