July 02, 2013 - 4:06 PM
KELOWNA - Sporadic drizzle may have rained on Saturday's Westside Daze Parade, but yesterday the sun was out in full force on Kelowna's downtown waterfront with temperatures climbing up to 33.5 degrees Celsius - well above the seasonal average.
Crowds snaking along the boardwalk at Tugboat Bay waited patiently for the sun's last rays to disappear to catch the grand finale of the Canada Day celebrations. Fireworks went off just after 10:30 p.m. Festivals Kelowna executive director Renata Mills says that's when numbers peaked, with close to 30,000 people huddled together in Waterfront Park to catch the show.
"The weather was fabulous but a little too warm... Attendance was down over the mid-day portion," Mills says. But once things cooled off after dinner attendance perked up, with people gathering near the lakefront all the way down to City Park.
Overall Mills says yesterday's celebrations drew just over 50,000 visitors, down slightly from the 60,000 who attended last year's festivities. As expected, many of those people are from out of town. While they cannot gauge just how many tourists came to the event, Mills says heavy traffic down Lakeshore Road is a good indicator the tourism season is upon us.
Tourism Kelowna communications manager Catherine Frechette says bookings at local hotels were a little softer this year.
"The hotels were not sold out this weekend," she says, but were still busy with late minute guests and walk-ins. Some hotels had cancellations from their Calgary clientele, due to the flooding crisis, but another factor was the weather.
"There's the last minute trend of people waiting to see what weather is going to do," Frechette says. In addition to the weekend festivities, the top requests from visitors were fruit picking, winery visits, hiking and beach outings.
As for next year's Canada Day celebrations, there will likely be more venues spread out through the downtown waterfront and into City Park.
"We could not fit anything else into Waterfront Park," Mills says of this year's events and stages.
"We need to find new venues if we want to keep adding to it."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013