After many years of planning, thousands of hours of volunteering and almost $3 million the time came for residents of Golden to celebrate the grand reopening of the towns Civic Centre.
The weekend of activities actually kicked off on Dec. 27 with the Elders’ Tea event.
Residents over the age of 65 were welcomed to the centre by volunteers and council members from Golden who served them tea and snacks.
Golden Mayor Christina Benty thanked those in attendance for all of the work they had done over the years to help make Golden into what it is today. Those who attended were impressed by the new look Civic Centre with some reflecting on how it was like a rebirth of an important piece of the history of the town.
The next event on the weekend agenda was the official grand opening evening held on Dec. 28.
The evening started with Jon Wilsgard introducing some of the activities of the evening while also reflecting on the work and history surrounding the building.
Benty was the opening speaker at the event. “I am so pleased to welcome you here to the grand reopening of the Golden Civic Centre…It has been a long time coming to have our own performing arts centre. Over 60 years of history and a couple of years of planning have brought us to this day,” she said. She went on to speak of the joining of the old and the new in a public space which is a symbol of the town history and culture.
“The value of public spaces cannot be measured economically it must be from the heart,” Benty said. She quickly added that even though this was true a portion of something like the Civic Centre has to come from having the available funds to build. She thanked the people and groups who stepped up to help make the project possible. After thanking many of the groups who helped make the Civic Centre dream a reality Benty thanked the citizens of Golden. “You should be incredibly proud at the legacy of volunteerism, the hard work and community spirit. You are the reason that this community is such a great place to live.”
Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia David Wilks was also on hand for the evening.
Wilks spoke of his memories of the building and how different it now looked.
He thanked the town for inviting him to the event and spoke of how buildings like the centre are valuable community assets for many communities.
Bill Bennett, BC Liberal MLA for Kootenay East, was also on hand as a representative from the provincial government.
“I am honoured and happy to help you in a small way to celebrate your accomplishments here,” Bennett said.
“I wanted to thank the town of Golden and particularly Christina Benty who is not only a great singer but also a great mayor,” Bennett added.
Wilsgard then introduced Bill Usher to the stage where he was greeted with a rousing applause. Usher has been working with the renovation committee for a number of years and has been one of the driving forces behind the work.
Usher started the show on grand opening night which was made of many talented local artists. He spoke about the importance of having the right tools for any job makes everything work much better. He also announced who made the contribution of a new grand piano for the centre. Local residents Mike and Mandy Cantle were thanked for their contribution which had been anonymous to everyone in the town up to that point. Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald who was also on hand was thrilled to see the building refurbished. “It really needed this. They have done a fantastic job. I think anyone who has lived here for a period of time knows this is where all sorts of events happen,” Macdonald said. “It is great to see it all dolled up and it looks ready for another 60 years.”
From that point on the weekend was about the music and fun to be had at the centre.
Early on New Year’s Eve the centre was filled with people who were given the chance to take a tour while learning about the history and process to make all of the changes which have happened to the building over the past year.
Many people who dropped by for the tour were also given the chance to hear many of the performers from the Jamboree hit the stage and jam the afternoon away.
After the tours ended the Amuse troupe moved in. Hundreds of people turned out for a special New Year’s Eve event for the children of Golden. They had the chance to take part in wand making, face painting while the troupe showed off their skills in many different ways. Then the group was led outside for a special fire show which ended with a fireworks display.
After a quick turnaround the jamboree was on and once again hundreds of people gathered in the hall to hear great musicians put on a show for the people in the audience. The weekend was a huge success according to some of the organizers of the weekend events.