A first-of-its-kind festival highlighting the positive change that’s occurred in North Kamloops drew hundreds of people to McDonald Park on Saturday.
“It’s a big park and we’ve got a big crowd,” said Steven Puhallo, executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association.
As soon as he took over the association, Puhallo wanted an event that showcased how the North Shore has turned a corner.
There was a time when an undesirable element dominated parts of North Kamloops, he said. McDonald Park was a microcosm of that.
As new families moved into the area the needles, discarded condoms and addicts that littered the park and neighbourhood were cleaned up and moved on.
“As a kid, you didn’t go here. Now you look at it,” he said, and nodded to the families that played and picnicked in the park.
“It’s a clean, green space in an area some had given up to bad people. We wanted to show that off.”
The clean-up effort was community driven, and Puhallo wanted the community to have a celebration to call its own. Overlander Days was born.
And businesses were more than willing to come on board. Among the live music, face painting, and free swimming courtesy of the City were booths from local employers.
People bought tickets to sample food from five North Kamloops restaurants, including Spice of India, Reubin’s Diner, Jam-Cam Café, Szechuan Restaurant and the North Shore White Spot. Puhallo said proceeds from ticket sales were donated to Meals on Wheels.
There were 200 to 500 people in McDonald Park at any one time Saturday. Some sampled food, others played in the playground or kicked a soccer ball around.
Kristine Hagen sat on the grass and enjoyed her lunch while listening to the music. Her family rents a home on the South Shore, and she’s looking for a neighbourhood to call home.
“Knowing there’s a wonderful event on for families, we brought our toddler and grandparents,” she said.
McDonald Park is stunning, she said, adding she’d visit again no matter where her family calls home.
Chris Martin, his wife and daughters live a couple of blocks away. They’ve lived in the area for two years and love it.
The Martins moved to North Kamloops because the houses are affordable and the neighbourhood has a lot to offer, including easy access to the Rivers Trail, he said.
Martin said Overlander Days is a fantastic idea.
City councillors Marg Spina, Nelly Dever, Donovan Cavers and Nancy Bepple attended.