Communities In Bloom judges saw Kamloops by land and by air Monday in the first of their two-day tour of all things growing here.
The two Communities In Bloom judges on tour — Bob Ivison from the U.K. and Alain Capelle from Belgium — are rating Kamloops in the international challenge category this year.
City parks planning and project supervisor Nick DeCicco said Monday the pair started at McDonald Park, toured McArthur Island, then went to Cinnamon Ridge and Tranquille Farms.
From there, they got into a helicopter and flew over Kenna Cartwright Park, the Juniper bike ranch, B.C. Wildlife Park and landed on a ball diamond at the Tournament Capital Ranch in Rayleigh.
From there, they headed to a tree planting at Pioneer Park, the 2141 Heritage Railway and the unveiling of a sign for the Red Bridge.
DeCicco said a similar helicopter tour was given to CIB judges in 2009. It's a good way to show off the terrain the city spans, as well as moving them around quickly.
The Communities In Bloom program has corporate sponsors, which helps cover the cost of the chopper, he said.
Kamloops moved into the international category this year, vying against Killarney Town, Ireland; SouthWest District, Singapore; Leduc, Alta.; Pembroke, Ont.; and Ville de Rosemere, Que.
Tueday's judges' agenda includes trips to the water treatment plant, heritage sites — the west end, Gaglardi Square, the museum, Old Courthouse — Tournament Capital Centre and Thompson Rivers University before a wrap-up banquet at Ora restaurant.
DeCicco said he thought the judges were impressed.
"We gauge it by the amount of questions they ask. They're asking a lot of questions," he said.
"We address all the key factors that are part of the judging. They're very interested in how we do things. Judging by that, I think they're impressed."
The Red Bridge sign is part of an enhancement project to highlight the 76-year-old structure.
Colleen Stainton of the fundraising committee said the goal is to create a three-piece kiosk explaining the history and importance of the bridge, and to light it up with solar LED lights.
"We still seeking donations," she said of the light-up project.
People can donate at the Kamloops Museum and the Kamloops Daily News.
"We hope to raise $150,000 by October. We have about $10,000 to $15,000 so far," she said.
"We have one of the few old trestle bridges that's still a working bridge. Many have been converted to a walking bridge, like Quesnel did."