After Wednesday’s announcement for British Columbia to move into the third phase of its restart plan, one of Vancouver’s most popular summertime attractions has announced that it will open amidst the pandemic.
Organizers announced on Thursday morning that both Playland and The Fair at the PNE would take place this summer, under strict, modified protocols.
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When Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that mass gatherings like the PNE were not likely to happen this year, the organization responded by saying that they’d adjust accordingly and that they had “a few bright ideas up” their sleeve.
Canada Day celebration
There will be a drive-thru Canada Day celebration on the fairgrounds, and it is being billed as the only “live Canada Day parade of 2020.” This will be a “reverse parade,” where families will be encouraged to wear red and white and decorate their cars with flags and Canadian-themed items.
All guests will stay in their cars and drive along the parade route, which even goes through the floor of the Pacific Coliseum.
Participants in cars can also pre-order popular PNE food items, such as corn dogs, hot dogs, fresh squeezed lemonade, cotton candy, and poutine.
This experience on Wednesday, July 1 will cost $10 per car, plus the cost of any food purchased.
Playland Amusement Park will reopen on Saturday, July 10, under a first phase opening that will allow guests to enjoy about a dozen popular rides and attractions. Future opening phases will increase the number and type of rides.
As part of Playland admission, all visitors will be provided with a “fun face mask.”
BC Day celebration
A BC Day long weekend celebration, between August 1 and 3, will feature the return of the “Taste of the PNE” series of a drive-thru food experience through the fairgrounds.
Calling it an “unconventional” event, organizers will be staging a drive-thru PNE Fair Experience, including Fair favourites such as the Superdogs, agriculture exhibits, and other family fun programming.
“These events do not mean that the PNE’s economic position is greatly improved, but it’s a start, and most importantly it will allow us to recall hundreds (although not thousands) of our Fair and Playland employees,” reads a statement by Shelley Frost, the president and CEO of the PNE.
“It will provide some desperately needed income for our exhibitors, partners and concessionaires. And it will allow us to stay connected and play the role the PNE has traditionally held in this province of being the place where British Columbia gathers to re-connect following great adversity – the Great Depression, two World Wars and now COVID. We at the PNE know in our hearts that the strength of our history is the foundation upon which we will build a bright future, and we humbly thank you all, for your incredible support these past two months.”
The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is a not-for-profit organization. Many of the events and programs run by the PNE are funded from revenues generated by Playland, the fair, and other year-round events.
In 2019, the PNE Fair saw 731,708 attendees through its 15-day event — the highest attendance seen in five years.