The 1954 version of the City of Kelowna's parade float in the annual PNE Parade in Vancouver.

Ogopogo faces being turfed from Kelowna’s parade float

A recommendation to city council calls for adoption of the new Active By Nature theme instead of the legendary Okanagan lake monster.

Should Ogopogo go?

The legendary lake monster has been used on Kelowna’s community parade float as far back as most can remember but, thanks to a proposal by city staff, his days representing the city could be numbered.

Staff, in a report to go to city council Monday, say it’s time to retire Ogopogo in favour of the city’s new Active By Nature theme.

“The purpose of a parade float is to tell a story,” writes the city’s event development supervisor Mariko Siggers. “It aims to attract interest, generate conversation and showcase some of the attributes and attractions of the destination. It embodies the community’s identity and culture. The main audience for a parade is young families therefore an element of fun and playfulness should be prominent.”

Siggers says four concepts for a new float were considered, the Active By Nature theme, culture, agri-tourism and keeping Ogopogo but putting him in the middle of all Kelonwa has to offer—recreation, culture, relaxation and, of course, Okanagan Lake.

In the end the Active By Nature theme won out, with early conceptual ideas including a lake to mountain landscape with a variety of  outdoor recreation equipment bursting out from it. Some of the featured activities could include cyclling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and mountain biking.

If Ogopogo is retired, it would be the first time in memory that the mythical monster has not appeared on the city’s parade float.

According to the city’s website, the tradition of parade floats goes back to the late 1800s and in the case of Kelowna, which became a city in 1905, its float has always had one consistent element—Ogopogo. Over the years there have been many versions of the float but it always featured Okanagan Lake’s most well-known inhabitant.

The current float was given a total overhaul in 2010 at a cost of $50,000—the first time work done to it in four years—and it participated in 18 parades in B.C., Alberta and Washington State last year. It has won several prizes as a result of its many appearances.

During last December’s deliberations on the 2016 city budget, council added $20,000 to pay to refurbish the float this year by replacing features and components and so it could appear in larger parades, but only after a lengthy discussion about whether the float was still an effective marketing tool for the city.

While Mayor Colin Basran, and Couns. Tracy Gray and Brad Seiben disagreed—and were supported by city manger Ron Mattiussi—the six other city councillors supported keeping the parade float afloat. Their support saved it from being scrapped.

If council approves this latest staff recommendation, the supplier of the new float would be asked to complete a new design and create conceptual drawings for council to approve. Discussions will be held with the parade float co-ordinator and the Miss Kelowna Lady of The Lake Society—as the Lady of the Lake regularly rides on the float when its appears in parades—to get feedback on functional issues associated with the new design.

A new flat would take three months to build and  if approved, could be ready in time for community parades throughout B.C. and across the Pacific Northwest by late summer.

The new float would be expected to last three to five years before getting another new look or a refresh.