It’s been a year of keeping our distances, not leaving the house and avoiding crowds, so finding something for the masses to do that’s fun and encourages activity is a rare treat indeed during these pandemic times.
Saturday’s Most EGGcellent Cruise was all it was cracked up to be.
An estimated 2,500 people took the opportunity to get away their screens and into the great outdoors to take part in 25 activities that made for an Easter weekend afternoon of fun.
Cruisers were challenged at Pine Centre Mall and the City Hall/Rolling Mix Concrete Arena parking lots to try to find a character dressed in red and white stripes and wearing thick-rimmed glasses for a Where’s Waldo sighting. A fox on the run was playing hide and seek and posing for pictures from a safe distance at Moore’s Meadow and there was a moose on the loose entertaining the kids at Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick Bravery Park.
The Prince George Traditional Drummers beat the skins for five hours straight to entertain the people who dropped by the Northern Interior Health Unit. People took selfies in front of the Terry Fox/Bridget Moran statues and at the Ginter House foundation. Ron’s Towing set up at the Hart Centre Mall to give out bubble makers and coloured chalk, while volunteers stationed in church parking lots handed out Easter eggs and potato chips to anybody who came for a visit.
Jes Gagnon and his wife Robyn loaded their two young sons, five-year-old Micha and three-year-old Sam into their vehicle and they went to all 25 stations set up for the five-hour event.
“We thought it was really great,” said Jes. “The boys had a lot of fun driving around trying to find the characters and getting the drive-through candy.”
Gagnon is the marketing/communications officer for community and continuing education at the College of New Caledonia and because of the pandemic he’s been working from home since he started his job in October. He and wife and sons welcomed the chance to do something different, with most recreational events not happening and city facilities still in lockdown mode to minimize the threat of the virus.
“It’s been interesting being at home all the time,” he said. “Micha’s in kindergarten so he has some entertainment there but Sam isn’t yet so there’s a lot of staying at home doing nothing because there’s nothing to do. This is a lot better than staying at home and watching TV all day, and they kept us safe and distanced.”
Jane Gauthier had about 300 carloads of fun-seekers drop by Northern Lights Estate Winery for a drive-through game of bean bag toss, which came with a COVID twist – all the throws directed at the hoop had to be made from inside your vehicle.
“I just loved seeing everybody out and all the smiles and families together,” said Gauthier, community development co-ordinator for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northern BC. “It was so awesome to see so many people out enjoying the day. We had kids out with grandma or grandpa and multi-generational families. Kids were throwing from car seats and I was quite impressed with everybody’s skills.
“We saw a number of students as well and that was really awesome to see. They’ve just been hit hard by COVID. It’s so great to be a part of something like that.”
People who took part in the cruise are being asked to submit their photos on Facebook and Instagram to the #pgeggcellentcruise to be eligible for prizes. There’s a special prize category for College of New Caledonia and University of Northern B.C. students who designate their student status with I Am A Student when they enter their photos. That makes them eligible for food/merchandise/restaurant gift certificates, a $500 CNC tuition voucher, a $500 snowboard and an iPad. For the kids, bikes, scooters and a Nintendo Switch game console are among the coveted prizes to be handed out next week.
EGGcellent Cruise organizer Dave Horton, whose usual job as director of Ness Lake Bible Camp has been temporarily wiped out by the pandemic, also instigated of the Halloween Candy Cruise In October and the Family Day Adventure Cruise in February, to try to get people out of their pandemic funk. Those events were also hugely popular and Horton was delighted to see so many sponsors, volunteers and participants rally behind the cause again on Saturday.
“It wasn’t crowded but at every station I went to there was way more people than I expected, we were shocked at the numbers,” said Horton. “We wanted to push people into parks and into open spaces and there was no reason to be crowded in a line in your car.”
While Saturday’s cruise was geared towards kids and families, Horton wanted to give college students a reason to get involved and the prizes provided by sponsors certainly did that.
“This year has been awful for those guys,” said Horton. “They’ve been paying full price for online learning, and then all restrictions at dorms and housing, so we aimed a whole slew of prizes at them and we had quite a few students show up as well.
“Our town just had 2,500 people take part in a city-wide activity, what other community can do that besides Prince George? It’s overwhelming how unified we are as a community, through COVID, trying to meet mental health and social needs people have right now. We’re trying to give people a safe option so they don’t just take whatever option they want. If we don’t do the work to give families safe options they’re going to find unsafe ones.
“I’m viewing this Easter EGGcellent Cruise in a lot of ways as a pre-wrapup party,” he said. “We’ve got to be so close (to the end of the pandemic).”