KELOWNA, B.C. – There’ll be no heave-ho for Ogopogo with councillors in Kelowna, B.C., voting to keep the mythical lake monster as the focus of the city’s parade float.
Staff had proposed ditching the iconic creature in favour of an outdoor recreation theme for the city’s new float, but politicians voted unanimously to stick with tradition.
A representation of Ogopogo, either a goofy one with big eyes or a menacing one with fearsome fangs, has appeared on the float for more than 50 years.
Ogopogo is a supposed sea serpent living in Okanagan Lake, and its legend goes back centuries to First Nations lore.
Its current image on the city float is well-travelled, with the float having logged 42,000 kilometres in the past five years and appearing in parades in 55 cities in the Pacific Northwest of the United and into Alberta.
Coun. Luke Stack said there was clearly widespread support for having the beast continue to feature prominently on the float, which will get a $20,000 facelift.
“There’s just lots of love for the Ogopogo,” said Stack, sporting an pin of the creature on his lapel.
City staff had argued the float needed an update and proposed a theme emphasizing active living with depictions of bicycling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The idea was “not very original” and wouldn’t separate Kelowna from other municipalities, Coun. Maxine DeHart said at Monday’s meeting.
The mythical monster is part of the city’s branding, DeHart said.
She noted that the legend of Ogopogo has attracted much publicity over the years, including visits to Kelowna by several Japanese film and television crews who’ve staged elaborate and costly searches for the beast.
Some of the outdoor recreation elements may be included in the new float, but after hearing council’s discussion, recreation director Jim Gabriel promised that the float’s “primary theme” would be Ogopogo.