Kelowna residents learned how much parade-related pomp $50,000 could buy Monday morning, when the newest Ogopogo float was unveiled.
“That’s a lot of money, but she seems to like it a lot,” said Kyle Wellman, gesturing to his 18-month-old daughter who was enjoying the sight of a sparkly Ogopogo adorned with two dancing Lady of the Lake representatives.
“I suppose that’s a good thing and if it gets around a lot that’s good.”
Others passing by the unveiling at Stuart Park were similarly surprised by the cost and pleased with the appearance of the city-funded float.
“I would have thought it would be cheaper,” said Andrew Schneider. “But I’m not involved enough in the tourism industry to give an educated response about that investment.”
Someone who does know a thing or two about the float’s impact on the tourism industry is Clarence Johnson, who’s driven it since 2007. Through the 20-or-so parades and festivals it gets to each year, he saw the best of times and the worst of times on the old city ambassador that logged 10,000 kilometres during its nine-year heyday.
“It was popular, but it didn’t look good hanging from the back of a tow-truck,” he said, recalling a 2009 breakdown in New Westminster. “This one will be a lot be a better drive, and it will be smoother.”
While locals got a sneak peak of the float Monday, its first official parade appearance will take place Saturday in Osoyoos and it will roll through Kelowna streets in June for the Fat Cat festival.
That audience will likely be pleased with the new, friendlier rendering of the mythical lake beast that came courtesy of local artist Jeff Chiba Stearns.
In an explanation of the design that later became reality he wrote that he felt it was important for the redesign of the Ogopogo to have an updated look that will appeal to all ages.
“It was important to create an Ogopogo that was hip, sleek, elegant, beautiful, and full of imagination,” he wrote.
“I gave the Ogopogo large curious eyes to give the design the appeal of friendliness and cuteness. It was also important to capture some of the traditional folklore associated with the Ogopogo.”
It seems he met some of his aims, as the design did get thumbs up from kids and even some adults for appearing friendlier.