Every December, Bruno Reichel and other members of the Relic Riders Motorcycle Club gather at the gravestone of their late friend, Kevin “Popeye” Tobin.
When the calendar hits Dec. 11 this year, it will have been seven years since the 41-year-old husband and father tragically died following the Carbonear Santa Claus parade. RCMP reported he fell off the Relic Riders’ float as it was making a turn on Adelaide Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The group’s clubhouse was a short distance from where the tragedy occurred.
Unfortunately, Reichel was reminded again of his friend’s death following the events of the Christmas parade in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia on Saturday, Nov. 24. There, a four-year-old girl watching the parade fell under a float. She died from her injuries, leaving a family and community to mourn. Since then, there has been an outpouring of support for the family of MaCali Cormier.
“I’m just thinking of the family of the little child that was killed and what the family of Kevin Tobin went through at the time,” Reichel, president of the Relic Riders, told The Compass. “It was quite devastating.”
So much so that the Relic Riders could never bring themselves to take part in another Santa Claus parade. After witnessing what happened to Tobin, the thought of being involved in the event became too much for them to bear.
“We used to do the parade every year,” Reichel recalled. “Kids seemed to love motorcycles and the type of floats that we used to do, and we always used to win first or second prize in the Carbonear parade. And sometimes we did the Harbour Grace parade too … Every year when the parade goes on, we go to the graveyard. It’s a little thing for us. We haven’t done (the parade) since because we just can’t do it anymore.”
A candlelight vigil for MaCali was held Monday evening, with hundreds showing up to support the girl’s family. A funeral for the girl is scheduled for Thursday morning, Nov. 29.
“It changes things for a lot of people. I’m sure the town of Yarmouth, that will be over their heads for a long time,” said Reichel. “It’s a shame. But life goes on for kids and Christmas. It still has to go on.”