MONTREAL – A crimson tide engulfed a patch of Montreal Saturday at the city’s first-ever gathering of the redheads.
The event was organized on Facebook by a ginger-headed Montrealer who wanted to foster a greater sense of community among those who shared her hair colour.
It attracted hundreds of enthusiastic participants from all over the province, ranging in age from toddlers to seniors.
Only natural redheads were invited.
Many who showed up shared memories of growing up with ginger hair — and say it wasn’t always easy because they stuck out.
Marilyn Lamonde, a 25-year-old Montrealer, said the event felt a little like the “revenge of the redheads.”
“It’s actually pretty cool, everybody talking about their different stories when they were young getting made fun of,” said Lamonde, who wears her red hair in a bob.
“We connect in the way that we all got teased when we were younger.”
In recent years, that teasing has taken a more serious turn.
Some redheads have been the target of “Kick a Ginger Day,” an annual event inspired by an episode of the animated television show, South Park.
The controversial event has resulted in stern warnings from school supervisors and student suspensions.
But the organizer of the Montreal gathering, Celine Dompierre, wanted to focus on the positive.
She asked everyone to wear white to the gathering on Montreal’s Mount Royal, and had a professional photographer on hand to take photos, including a massive group shot.
Audrey Bisson, a 17-year-old from just outside Montreal, said she made a few friends her age who share her hair colour.
“It’s really cool,” Bisson said.
“People used to make fun of us, and now we’re here and proud of being redheads and we can be here and point at them and say, ‘hey, you’re not a red head.'”
Joseph Baron, 31, said it felt strange to be in a place where his red hair and pale skin doesn’t stand out.
“I find it’s a little surreal seeing so many gingers congregating in one spot outside of, say, Ireland,” he said.
Baron said that he, too, struggled at times with being a redhead, but that he’s come to embrace it.
“I actually had a brief period when I was younger when I tried to rebel against my genes and dye my hair blue. It was not successful,” he said.
“I’ve never tried it again, I’ve learned to accept and enjoy the hair I was born with.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story, a earlier version wrongly attributed some quotes of Marilyn Lamonde to another person.