Sun "shrining" weekend

It was a busy weekend starting off with the Gizeh Shriners parade last Saturday. I felt really good and was amazed everyone was smiling, dancing and kids were super excited. It wasn’t until the end of the route I realized that the PeachFest float with the Royalty and candidates was behind us with the tunes blaring and the girls dancing. Between us and the Royalty were two Shriner clowns, so that was why the kids were bouncing off the sidewalk with glee.

From the parade I raced to the airport in time for the Panther Squadron 259 annual cadet review. Over 40 cadets aged 12-18 showcased what they learned. We saw precision marching, public speaking, marching band, and rifle drills. The cadet program was impressive and it provides life lessons in teamwork, discipline, comradery, and respect. Each cadet exemplified a work ethic that they will take with them throughout their lives and careers.  There is a stigma to Military operations and while the cadet program is regimented, they do many outdoor adventure and fun group activities.  I was glad to be part of their review proceedings.

This weekend was the 100 year anniversary of the Kettle Valley Railroad, and I was on hand to cut and serve some birthday cake. It started in 1910 when the KVR presented to council and council pledged $25,000 to purchase the waterfront from Winnipeg Street to the mouth of Penticton Creek. The KVR would pay $250 tax per year, and located their head office, service, supply, and repair facilities in Penticton providing many jobs.  With the anticipated growth in visitors the CPR built the Incola Hotel which opened 1912. On May 31st 1915 at 4:30pm the first train arrived. Today the KVR is still an important transportation corridor, but now it serves as the spine of our Regional Trail Network. It is used by cyclists, hikers, and runners of all ages. I encourage you to relive some history and ride an actual Steam Locomotive train in Summerland. The KVR has amazing trestle bridges, tunnels, rock ovens, and stunning views.

Saturday night was special as I witnessed the Shriners ceremonial, and got a glimpse into who the men in funny red hats were.  My only correlation to their society and hats was from my childhood watching the Flintstones and the Royal Order of Water Buffalos. The Shriners provide access to medical care for kids regardless of their family’s ability to afford care. They make such a difference in the lives of families and are helping a handful of Okanagan families as we speak.  The guest speaker went through Shriners Hospital as a patient year’s ago after being burnt as a child head to toe and losing both hands. Dan Caro was his name and he started off with a 10 minute drum solo. The talented musician then spoke to the crowd about his experience, and put into perspective what determination can do help you achieve the impossible.

One of the benefits of being on Council is that it pushes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to people and events you might be familiar about, but never experienced.  I was grateful to be included and wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a few examples of regular people making a significant impact in and for our community.