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Port Moody’s Golden Spike Days going drive-thru

After being held virtually last year, Port Moody's Golden Spike Days festival will be a drive-thru event on July 1.
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The famous can-can dancers will be part of Port Moody's drive-thru Golden Spike Days festival on July 1, that will also have a virtual component to July 4.

This year’s Golden Spike Days festival in Port Moody will be unlike any other.

But at least it will be.

After going virtual last summer because of public health restrictions to limit transmission of COVID-19, you’ll be able to attend this year’s event in person.

As long as you stay in your car.

Golden Spike Days is going drive-thru on July 1 although the fun will continue online through to July 4.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, said Ken Nielsen, the president of the non-profit society that organizes Port Moody’s big annual celebration of its railroading heritage that also happens to coincide with Canada Day.

“The only thing we felt we could do would be a drive-thru,” he said, adding the organizing committee worked through various scenarios in monthly meetings since last year’s virtual event.

Navigating the ever-shifting landscape of public health orders has been tricky, explained Nielsen. In the end, though, the organizers felt it imperative to bring back a live component.

To make that happen, the event is moving from Rocky Point Park, where it normally attracts about 40,000 people over four days, to the parking lot in front of the city’s recreation centre, which will be enclosed by fencing. It will also be ticketed, at a cost of $10 per car, so organizers can better manage the traffic flow and have certainty of numbers to attend.

Once visitors have been steered by flaggers and traffic marshals into the one-way course, the experience will be not unlike a visit to Disney’s “It’s A Small World.”

From the safety of their vehicle, attendees will pass by booths and tables from various sponsors and community organizations, the traditional can-can dancers, clowns twisting balloons, a performer who specializes in blowing giant bubbles, magicians and musical performances by such Golden Spike favourites as The Dueling Pianos.

Nielsen estimates it will take a vehicle about 10 to 15 minutes to navigate the show, after which they can pick a lane for one of five food trucks that will be on-site where operators will deliver their fare right to the car window.

There will also be give-away booths and a package of treats like coupons or samples from the event sponsors.

Some of the entertainment acts will also be part of the virtual event that is ticketed as well, by donation. The online show includes arts and cooking demonstrations, fitness and children’s activities and — perhaps most importantly — the return of the Tri-Cities Got Talent competition.

“We didn’t want to see that die,” Nielsen said. “The history of keeping that going is so important.”

It’s been a big project putting it all together, he added, with no certainty people will respond.

Still, Nielsen is confident his contingent of 12 directors and dozens of adult volunteers, as well as helpers from the lacrosse community, can pull it off and help create some happy memories.

“It going to feel a lot different,” he said. “It’ll provide some hope to families that better times are coming.”

Port Moody isn’t the only city hosting a Canada Day drive-thru: Coquitlam’s will be in the south parking lot of the Douglas College campus on July 1; participants will get a Canada Day kit in advance to decorate their vehicle.

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