Diva Ladies incorporate Chi-Cheemaun into annual tradition

The Diva Ladies stop at Carl’s Trading Post on their annual jaunt. They are, from left, Doris Thiessen, Sheila Dickinson, Lynn Dickinson, Sandra Burke, Mary Ann Pascucci, Mary Henderson, Tara Reeves, Michelle Dickinson, Tracy Crittenden (in behind), Eleanor Crittenden and Marj Kleingeld. photo by Robert Brown

SOUTH BAYMOUTH—Just like the groundhogs in February and Santa at Christmas, the South Baymouth Divas only come out once a year and Saturday, August 13 was that day.

Marj Kleingeld, who lives in Elmwood (near Hanover) and has a small cottage in South Baymouth, spoke for the group of “well dressed” ladies when they were spotted out for their annual stroll down Highway 6 when they stopped for a visit at Carl’s Trading Post to visit Robert and Gary Brown last Saturday.

Ms. Kleingeld, her sisters, sister-in-law and nieces comprised a party of 13 Divas this year, both Junior and Senior levels.

She explained that the tradition began over 15 years ago when her father passed away. “We’re four daughters and we thought, ‘what are we going to do for Mom?’ so that year, and the next one, we took her to Southampton.” Most of the family lives in Southwestern Ontario.

“We didn’t do anything for a couple of years and my partner Donnie and I had bought the cottage in South Baymouth so we moved the annual getaway here,” she explained.

“We brought our Mom here for a few years, right up until the year before she would have turned 100. In fact, that year, on the way home, she was making plans for her 100th birthday party,” Ms. Kleingeld recalled.

Sadly, the matriarch didn’t live to see her century through but after her last family outing to South Baymouth, ‘she made us girls promise to keep on doing this after she was gone because it had become such a bonding thing.”

The routine is the same every year, on the same Saturday: the sisters dress up as outrageously as they want to (“we each plan our outfits by ourselves, get in costume in a room in the cottage and then come on out to show off to the rest of the clan”) and then walk down (the cottage is quite close to the ferry dock) to meet the 5:30 pm Chi-Cheemaun ferry, with much waving and cheering.

“Then, we walk up the road to the store to meet Robert and Gary and then go over to Carol’s and Earl’s Restaurant for supper, all dressed up in our attire and being silly,” she explained.

“Since the beginning, we’ve lost our mother and a sister-in-law. It was down to five of us, including a sister-in-law and some of our nieces had been bugging us to join in the fun,” Ms. Kleingeld told The Expositor.

This year was the initiation of the “Junior Divas”: eight nieces showed up, including one young woman who lives in Texas and planned her holidays so she could attend, Ms. Kleingeld mentioned.

“And there is the potential for more!” she said. In all, there are 13 nieces.

The “Senior Divas” and their new “Junior Divas” group was particularly well received by the ferry crowd this year, Ms. Kleingeld said. “There was lots of waving back and people stopped and came back to have their picture taken with us. I don’t think one car went by without either stopping or honking,” she recalled.

“It’s amazing, this response by total strangers. People told us we were spreading so much happiness.”