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Two decades of service and counting with Fabulous Fenwick Lions

Bert Marissen oversees this weekend's parade and carnival
Bert Marissen has been a Fenwick Lion for 23 years.

If you’re driving around town and see large portable signs with brightly coloured graphics and letters, chances are that Bert Marissen put them there.

The 63-year-old Balfour Street resident and proprietor of Magnet Signs is also an active member of the Fabulous Fenwick Lions, responsible for chairing the annual Fenwick Lions Parade and Carnival. He expects that families will again turn out in force this weekend, May 26 through 28, to take in the parade, midway rides, games, food, and fireworks spectacle which have made the event so popular.

“I’ve been with the club for 23 years, and have served as president twice,” said Marissen. “As carnival chair, I’m busy with lots of phone calls and emails, as I and my team do the fine-tuning of the approaching event. Last year’s carnival was the first one since the pandemic, and it was a big success, but it requires a lot of work, done by a lot of people. Luckily, we have a fantastic main sponsor in Willowbrook Nurseries, and really appreciate John Langendoen’s generosity.”

The parade starts at 7 PM this Friday. Parade participants will be marshalled at 6 PM at Bethany Christian Reformed Church on Balfour Street. The route winds through the village of Fenwick and finishes at Centennial Park on Church Street, the site of the carnival, which opens at 5 PM. Gates open at noon on Saturday and Sunday. There is no admission fee to get into the park, and the fireworks show and parking are also free of charge. Rides require a ticket purchase, and food is available to buy on-site.

The primary annual fundraiser for the Fenwick Lions is a classic car show and car raffle, held in September, with a bright yellow 1969 Chevy Nova SS the prize this year. Tickets are available online at

The Fenwick Lions Club has about 50 members, said Marissen, which has swelled in recent years “due to our ability to attract many younger guys, which is great.”

Marissen was born and raised in Holland, and came to Canada with his parents at age 20.

“My parents eventually moved back to Europe, but I stayed here, got married, and built my life,” he said. “I ran Bert's Bistro, a Fenwick restaurant, for ten years. It was located where the Broken Gavel is now. The restaurant was a popular spot, but life is all about transitions, and I decided to get into real estate as a new career. Eventually I bought a Magnet Signs franchise, which are available coast-to-coast, and ran that business alongside my real estate sales for about seven years. Things just got so busy, I decided to focus on the sign business full-time, aided in the enterprise by my wife, Janet.”

Marissen estimates that he has about 100 signs on display throughout the region currently, which are rented out on a monthly basis.

“The shop on Balfour Street was here when we moved in next door 23 years ago. When it came up for sale 16 years ago, I bought it, and jumped into the sign business. We can create all kinds of nice layouts and magnetized graphics,” he said.

A restored 1969 C10 Chevy truck is stored in the shop, which Marissen has driven in past Fenwick Lions parades.

Marissen stays pretty close to home during the summer months, although he and his wife enjoy occasional visits with family and friends back in Rotterdam.

“We have seven children and 11 grandchildren, and so I built a backyard pool which gets pretty busy,” he said.

Marissen is also involved with the Open Arms Mission, in Welland, a faith-based organization that helps needy people in the community.

“We raise quite a bit of money and food, especially with our Coldest Night of the Year program in February,” he said.


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Don Rickers

About the Author: Don Rickers

A life-long Niagara resident, Don Rickers worked for 35 years in university and private school education. He segued into journalism in his retirement with the Voice of Pelham, and now PelhamToday
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