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Surrey’s notorious Flamingo Hotel takes its final bow at demolition celebration

The Flamingo Hotel in Surrey is no more
WATCH: Surrey's notorious Flamingo Hotel, which once featured a strip club, went out with a bang thanks to some help from Mayor Doug McCallum. Jordan Armstrong reports.

One of the longest-standing symbols of Surrey’s past was brought down with a bang Saturday as crews demolished the notorious Flamingo Hotel.

Hundreds of people came down to Whalley to watch the demolition, which was approved by council earlier this year.

The hotel, which housed one of the Lower Mainland’s last stripper bars for more than four decades, will be replaced over the next few years by three residential towers and other developments.

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As the sounds of Kool & the Gang’s Celebration blared over the speakers, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum helped operate the excavator that tore down the first section of the building as controlled explosives did the rest of the work.

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Still wearing his hard hat, McCallum said taking down the hotel and bar was a sign that the area is turning a corner.

“It’s an area where people want to live and work and play in, and we can see it in the number of people looking to buy here and the number of developers who want to build here,” he said.

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“It’s a symbol that we’re entering a new generation.”

The Flamingo first opened in 1955 as a modest hotel with 20 rooms. It later added a liquor store and a cabaret to the property.

But it was the opening of the Byrd Pub in the 1970s, featuring the showroom with its brass pole and the Tropic Lounge, that earned the Flamingo its notoriety.

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The pub had its share of fights, stabbings and shady characters over the years. At least two murder victims were last seen at the Byrd before their bodies were found.

It also featured plenty of live music acts, which overtook the strippers as the main draw during its last year of operation.

A “Last Stand” concert was held in February to mark its eventual demolition, followed by a charitable sale in March that unloaded the pub’s tables, chairs and lighting fixtures.

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McCallum and other local politicians who attended the event, including Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains, admitted that they’ve had some beers at the Flamingo “a few times.”

But they added the tear-down was the start of an important transformation for the area.

“It’s so exciting to see Surrey growing, and I think Vancouver will be looking to us on how to build a city,” Bains said. “This part of the city is hard to recognize from what it used to be, but it’s going to be even better.”

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There’s no word yet on when construction on the new development will begin. Global News has reached out to developer Tien Sher Homes for comment.