Charlottetown — This Saturday, to mark the beginning of tourist season, the entire town of Charlottetown will be dressing up as Anne from the beloved children’s book series Anne of Green Gables, donning red pigtail wigs, gingham dresses, and holding baskets of fresh eggs.
“Look, this is what the tourists want,” explained Gary Burton, a Charlottetown electrician who plans to wear his wig until early October. “They’re here for Anne, so let’s give them Anne. Let’s give them 35,000 Annes.”
During previous summers, residents have painted their gables green, stores have papered their walls with pages from the classic book series, and local restaurants have served Anne-themed meals, where everything from spaghetti to rib-eye steak are sculpted into 3D renderings of the Canadian icon. But this year, the tourism bureau decided to take it one step further.
“We don’t just want tourists to see Anne of Green Gables books, merchandise and re-enactments everywhere they go,” explained Thomas McCormick, the PEI tourism administrator spearheading the project. “We think it will really enhance their experience of the town if every person they interacted with was Anne.”
Charlottetown citizens have been instructed to spontaneously burst into song, travel by skipping and/or frolicking, and to find opportunities to say, “Oh when will I stop getting myself into such pickles!”
Not everyone is so enthusiastic about this scheme.
“It’s been kind of creepy watching them set up for this,” stated Jessica LaPierre, a visitor from Gatineau who arrived earlier this week to avoid the tourism rush. “I was fine with seeing my Airbnb host churning butter in the hallway when I went to the bathroom, but it’s weird to be told you’re ‘a wonderfully kindred spirit’ by every stranger you pass.”
To truly bring the spirit of clumsy Anne to life, the citizens of Charlottetown plan to deliberately bungle simple tasks and inconvenience tourists.
“People have really gotten into character already,” gushed McCormick. “Wait staff have been choreographing tripping and spilling hot dishes on their patrons, mechanics have practised ‘accidentally’ disabling key engine parts, and the children have even joined in, breaking into visitors’ hotel rooms in search of their misplaced flour and cornmeal.”
Charlottetown residents are so excited by the project that they’ve even started planning their Anne crusade for next year: they intend to convert the town itself into a giant rendering of the 11-year-old rascal. The town is currently working on constructing an 400-foot red pigtail wig that will hover over the city centre.