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Countdown to Vernon Winter Carnival kicks off

Media and event launch night raise hype for 63rd festival Feb. 3-12

How can you resist Wilma and Fred Flintstone inviting you for Tyrannosaurus Rex and Brontosaurus Chili (one with meat, one plant-based) and Dino Dogs?

How can you look away from Leela from Futurama, decked out in her purple hair, welcoming visitors?

How do you not acknowledge the chairperson dressed as a game-show hostess holding up applause cue cards?

You don’t.

The 63rd Vernon Winter Carnival launched its countdown Wednesday night, Jan. 11, with a fun evening at the Best Western Premier Hotel on Anderson Way.

The 2023 theme is Carnival TV, and the Winter Carnival Society’s members were dressed up in costume representing a variety of shows and characters, a pre-amble to what will happen for 10 days of fun and frivolity Feb. 3-12.

“We like to offer a unique winter experience that’s inclusive to everyone, and we strive to bring people together through shared experiences,” said Carnival executive director Vicki Proulx, dressed as Leela from the animated TV series (though her one-eye Cyclops mask, a key component of Leela, was broken).

Proulx (and guests) used her daughter’s pink karaoke machine microphone and speaker to address the crowd.

“As a non-profit society, we rely on the support of the community, local businesses, local, provincial and federal governments year-round. Thank you for your support and when you participate in Carnival, you’re not only supporting our event but you’re supporting the entire community.”

Proulx was joined by Carnival sponsors and event presenters, including the major sponsor of Carnival, Valley First. Branch manager Curt Reimer made the save of the evening, showing up from work but saying he was dressed as a character from his favourite TV show, Suits.

“We’re very excited at the branch, all ready to decorate for our favourite TV show, though no secrets will be spilled here tonight,” said Reimer. “Tonight, we’re going to kick off an excellent year of Vernon Winter Carnival.”

Among the event presenters was the hilarious duo of Cindy Blatny and Ruth Hoyte from the Vernon Elks Lodge, dressed as Fred and Wilma Flintstone, respectively. The women invited people to the Elks (not Water Buffalo) Lodge after the Carnival parade Saturday, Feb. 4, for food and drink (see video above).

Speaking of the parade, there is a major change to the route for 2023.

The event kicks off at 12 p.m. from its usual location on 27th Street between 39th and 43rd Avenues. The parade travels south along 27th and turns right at 30th Avenue but instead of continuing to a right-turn at Nolan’s Drugs at 31st Street, the parade will turn right two blocks earlier at 29th Street, then go north to 32nd Avenue. The parade will then turn left onto 32nd and head to the post office, turning right on 31st Street before finishing at the old Vernon Civic Arena site.

“We know some people have probably watched the parade in the same spot on the same street for 25 years,” said Proulx. “We’re making the change to help keep the B.C. Transit exchange on 31st Avenue open and operating.”

Among the event highlights for the 63rd Carnival include the 40th anniversary of the Over The Hill Downhill Ski Race at SilverStar Mountain Resort; the 50th anniversary of the Coca Cola Classic Pee Wee Hockey Tournament and 50th year for the Best Decorated Premises award. More than 300 North Okanagan students will take part in Jam Can Curling.

Carnival chairperson Laurel Cornell, decked out as a game show hostess, and joined by Carnival Cop husband Rod Koenig, invited everyone to take part.

“There is something for all ages,” said Cornell. “Enjoy and have fun.”

More information on events and tickets can be found at

READ MORE: Vernon Winter Carnival salutes television with its 2023 theme

READ MORE: Vernon students can submit essays for chance at Winter Carnival scholarships

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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