Sunbathers on Citadel Hill were no doubt caught off guard Thursday when a Sea King helicopter landed on the bottom of the grassy hill.

They also got to see a parade of 400 sailors and musicians from the Canadian navy that stopped traffic from Sackville to North Park streets. The group circled the Halifax Common before finishing their march at the Halifax Armoury on North Park.

All this pageantry was in preparation for the Queen’s Colour ceremony, which takes place Saturday at the Garrison Grounds on Citadel Hill at 10 a.m.

 

The Queen’s Colour is a flag given to the Canadian navy by the Royal family every 30 years. Canadian Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean will be at the celebration to preside over the event, and the navy has been preparing for the event for close to a year.

“We only do it every 30 years, so we want to do it well,” said Cmdr. Brian Palmeter, who is based in Halifax and has helped in the planning of the event.

The navy hosts the event, however the maritime helicopter community will help out by flying at about 500 feet above Citadel Hill during the event.

“We’re really excited about participating in the event,” said Capt. Iris Semeniuk, the co-ordinator of the Sea Kings that will fly over the ceremony.

A total of 500 navy personnel will participate, including a 100-piece band and “lots of things happening, aircraft flying overhead, there’ll be artillery firing a 21-gun royal salute,” Palmeter said.

If you’re around Citadel Hill Friday, you might even get a sneak peak of Saturday’s performances. Navy personnel plan to be rehearsing during the day for the ceremony.

“We want to make sure we’re all co-ordinated,” Palmeter said.

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