New Brunswick — As people across the province celebrate their first-ever Family Day, we mustn’t forget to take a moment to honour the man whose legacy we look to acknowledge with this new statutory holiday: Marc Anthony Family.
Family, of course, was the man who had rediscovered Moncton after it was briefly lost between the years 1942 and 1956, a period often referred to by Monctonians as “The Black Ages, But, Like, Not In a Racist Way,” and quickly rose to the rank of folk hero after fulfilling a commitment to drink a beer at every single bar in the province in just one night back in in 1967, showing both his devotion to local business and his ability to hold his liquor.
Family’s stature has only grown within the province since his death in 1998 (famously, his heart surgeons were too caught up in the Seinfeld finale to pay proper attention to the task at hand).
This morning, a small parade was held in Moncton in honour of Family’s legacy, which featured an impressive float carrying a giant, papier-mâché facsimile of Family’s mustached face, followed by a litany of intoxicated children (who are legally allowed two alcoholic beverages during the holiday).
Shorty after the parade, Premier Brian Gallant spoke a few laudatory words about the local legend.
“If I asked you who the greatest New Brunswicker to ever live was,” said Gallant, stepping up to the podium, “who would you say it was?
“If you told me ‘Lord Beaverbrook,’ I would spit in your face,” he said, answering himself harshly. “If you said ‘Wayne Gretzky,’ I would say you have the wrong province. If you were to say ‘Brian Gallant,’ I would demure and say ‘nawww.’
“But,” he continued, raising his index finger, “If you said ‘Marc Anthony Family,’ I would say ‘You’re goddamn right he is!’”
There was a smattering of applause from the audience.
Despite the celebrations, Marc Anthony Family remains a controversial figure to some, as was exemplified by the many protesters who occupied the parade, carrying signs and chanting “Down With Family Values!”
Family’s checkered past was addressed by Gloria Ezersky, historian and director of the Marc Anthony Family Museum in Shediac, who spoke briefly with The Manatee.
“It is an unfortunate fact of history that Family used to regularly beat his grandmother with a rolled-up newspaper, often stole insulin from diabetic children, and was known to sometimes tip cows over and then poop on them,” said Ezersky, with the commensurate amount of solemnity. “It is also true that he once cooked and ate his only son during a particularly harsh winter…even though he had plenty of food in the cabin at the time.
“I think he just liked the taste of human flesh,” she added, thoughtfully, after a moment.
“Now, does that negate all of the positive things he’s done for the province? I don’t know. That’s up for history to decide,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “In the meantime, here, have a button.”
If you want to learn more, be sure to visit the Marc Anthony Family Museum for more fascinating facts on this beloved New Brunswicker. (Closed for Family Day)