After two years of pandemic restrictions and limitations, Calaway Park is finally getting to celebrate a long-awaited four-decade milestone — but with a twist.
After missing out on its 40th celebration last summer, on Saturday the north Calgary theme park kicked off festivities for its “40+1 Birthday Weekend.”
“We’re having fun because who does that right,” laughed Calaway Park general manager Bob Williams.
Calaway Park first opened its gates to guests back on June 26, 1982, since then it’s doubled in size from 16 rides to 32. While last summer would have marked its 40th season, any and all celebrations were put on hold due to the pandemic.
“We did get to open in 2020 with lots of restrictions. In 2021 there were some restrictions with COVID,” says Williams, who has been an employee with the park for 32 years.
“But you know, the anniversary is special, it’s something that you need to celebrate.”
The first 750 guests on Saturday were treated to a commemorative cookie to kick off the weekend celebration. The park will also host scavenger hunts as well as the first showing of its latest on-stage performance, Young Forever.
“It’s a fun song and dance show with some young performers that are all about staying young at heart. It’s very on-brand for Calaway Park,” said entertainment director Chris Thompson.
Thompson was hired by the park as a performer while in high school at just 16 years old. Now, 32 years later, he’s still bringing the magic to the parks stage.
“For me, being a part of so many of those years and seeing so much growth happen at the park over those years and being a part of that, I’m just really proud of this company. I’m proud of all the people I’ve worked with and proud of myself for having an impact all those years,” said Thompson.
The park wasn’t alone in celebrating a milestone.
Medicine Hat resident Dale Lloyd’s visit to Calaway Park on Saturday was a personal milestone.
“First time we came, we brought our two daughters and now we’re back here with our granddaughters,” he said.
“It’s kind of surreal. You think about them (our daughters) and you think about the little ones now, it’s a great experience for them.”
William says it’s stories like Lloyd’s that have given him the most joy during his three decades with the company.
“The stories and experiences from the guests are what it’s all about, and it’s about that experience and that’s what we draw from it. (I) love it, every minute of it.“
Calaway Park wraps up its birthday celebration on Sunday.