We arrived at Heritage Street United Church promptly at 9:15. Opening the double doors of the yellow brick building, we discovered Jacqueline's friends waiting in the foyer. The four of them sat on a big wooden bench, braids and buns bobbing, and legs swinging, as they chatted merrily. We parents checked to make sure they had their songbooks.
We tiptoed up the steps of the church where we met a worker at the top and each girl gave him her name. Then we waited as someone finished playing their piece. The double doors to the sanctuary opened and in we walked, the girls taking a seat in one pew and us in another. What a magnificent building! The tall stain glassed windows harkened back to yesterday. The dark stained wooden ceiling looked just as solid as the day it was constructed. History was in the walls of that church: I spotted a plaque dedicated to the soldiers who served in the first World War with the heading "Methodist Church". By the Second World War, it had become a United Church.
My thoughts were interrupted when the Kiwanis Festival official called the girls to the front: Jacqueline, Leah and Madalyn (Laurelei was in another category). While Rob thought the church would be full, it was almost empty. Ironically, an empty church can be just as intimidating as a full one. However, Jacqueline had no time to ponder this since she was the first to perform. Clad in a peasant blouse and black tights, she walked with surprising poise to the front, announced her piece in a tiny voice and then sat down at the piano. I sat in the pew with my eyes closed, more nervous than the pianist. But as Jacqueline played, she gained confidence. She hit the right notes; she found the right tempo; she remembered the staccato notes. With the exception of a slip towards the end, she played flawlessly. Then she settled back into the pew as the adjuticator penned some copious notes.
Jacqueline's friends also played their pieces well, showing great poise. Then the adjudicator came to the front with her notes in hand. She praised the girls for their performances and gave suggestions for improvement. Jacqueline graciously accepted her first prize red ribbon. But she was quick to congratulate the other girls, saying that they had more difficult pieces than hers.
Outside one of the mothers took photos of the foursome beside the Kiwanis Festival sign, cars whizzing past in the background. We hugged and congratulated our daughter and then said goodbye. She was on her way to Tim Horton's with the other girls to celebrate, her red ribbon in her hand.
Photo of Heritage United Church (formerly Colborne Street United) courtesy http://heritageunitedchurch.ca.