Fairy tale theme park a popular place to hang out for Okanagan kids in the 1970s | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fairy tale theme park a popular place to hang out for Okanagan kids in the 1970s

Image Credit: Lake Country Museum
June 20, 2020 - 3:28 PM

A giant toadstool, a bright yellow boot that was two storeys high and a slide that ripped the skin clean off of eager kids if they weren't careful could once been seen from Highway 97.

Robert Pestes’ parents owned Adventureland in the 1960s and '70s, which was likely the first theme park in the Okanagan, he said.

The adventure park had a time machine, Old Mother Hubbard's shoe that doubled as a ticket booth and gift shop, a petting zoo, rides, a mini-golf course and more. The park was originally based on the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, but as time went on and the park expanded, so did Pestes’ parents’ fairy tale ideas, he said.

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“Every year they would try and add something more to it and it got bigger and bigger,” he said.

The super slide which was about 150 feet long, built on the side of the hill and patrons still recall the friction burn they got from slipping a bit out of their burlap sacks.

Image Credit: Lake Country Museum

Kids would break in and try to ride it at night, so they tried to hide the mats.

“It was just the way it went,” Pestes laughed.

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Samuel and Dorothy Pestes opened the park in 1966, and Pestes, the youngest of three siblings, was tasked with mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, maintaining the rides throughout his childhood and eventually became a manager of the adventure park.

As the business grew, the Pestes hired George Elliot Secondary students for the summer work.

“It got to be a fair-sized business until my dad sold it in about 1982,” Pestes said. It was purchased by the owners of Flintstones Bedrock City, formerly a Flinstone-theme park located on McCurdy Road in Kelowna.

“It was an awful lot of work and (my parents) were ready to semi-retire and move on with life so they were happy to sell it. It was a little bittersweet for me to see someone else take over what my family had built but such is life and that’s the way it goes,” Pestes said.

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Old Kelowna

Eventually, during the recession, the business which bought it went bankrupt.

But Lake Country residents fondly remember the adventure park and share their photos and memories of it in Lake Country Reflections, a Facebook group aiming to showcase the district’s history.

Alan Gatzke, a longtime Lake Country resident, would celebrate his birthday parties throughout elementary school at the park.

"It would cause traffic jams even at that time, it was a happening place," he said.

“But we were also some of the bad boys that would drive our mini bikes from Oyama and sneak down and use the slide at night,” he said. “We’d bring our own sacks.”

“They had different ways of blocking it off but we were acrobatic and were able to climb over the barricades.”

It feels good that the theme park is still remembered, Pestes said.

“It amazing actually, it was so long ago, I think people forget about that sort of thing," he said.

In the age of virtual entertainment, there aren’t many parks like it around anymore, so he's glad to see that people remember it fondly, he said.

“My parents would be happy to know that too,” he said. “It had more of an impact than I appreciated at the time I think.”

 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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