February 05, 2016 - 9:00 PM
KELOWNA – If you lived in or visited Kelowna in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, you likely remember Bedrock City and its iconic sign.
The 40-foot Fred Flintstone sign was torn down along with the rest of the park in 2000, and ‘Forty Foot Fred’ as he was called, was never seen again – until recently.
Bedrock City was a major attraction in Kelowna until the park closed down in 1998. The owner, R.J. Bennett, decided it was just too costly to maintain and it became a shopping centre.
His daughter Mary Jean Bennett says Bedrock City was almost 30 years old and in need of significant repairs. It was a lot of work to run and Hanna-Barbera wanted huge amounts of money for licencing.
“They wanted a lot,” she says. “They wanted as much as they could get, basically, in the end they just cancelled it.”
The park was torn down and so was Forty Foot Fred, but until an aerial photo turned up on social media earlier this month, the public had no idea where he went.
Image Credit: Google Maps
The Google Earth aerial photo was uploaded by the administrators of the Old Kelowna Facebook group page on Feb. 1. It shows a faded, but still recognizable Fred giving his trademark thumbs up.
Nostalgic fans of Forty Foot Fred shared the image almost 300 times and left more than 60 comments, including a neighbour who stresses that the owners of the land are very private.
The 11,000 acre parcel of land is registered to Victor Projects, the registered owner of Bedrock City. Former CEO R.J. Bennett, brother of the late Premiere Bill Bennett, says they always wanted to put Forty Foot Fred back up somewhere, maybe in front of Freddy's Brewpub, which is named after Flintstone and is located on the same site where the amusement park once sat.
"It was a major landmark," Bennett says. "Kids grew up knowing it."
Bennett says now that the word has gotten out he plans to disassemble the sign and store the dozens of handpainted sheets of 4x8 plywood. His daughter would say he's keeping it because he never throws anything out, but it's clear the sign still has meaning for him.
"I’ll just pick those up and put them in the back of the truck," he says. "It doesn't take much to store those and they are a piece of Kelowna history."
Forty Foot Fred as he looks today.
Image Credit: Troy Grover/Old Kelowna
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