Big yellow slide at Edmonton EXPO demolished after 49 years

Click to play video: 'Big yellow slide at Edmonton EXPO grounds being demolished'
Big yellow slide at Edmonton EXPO grounds being demolished
The Kiwanis slide — known to many simply as the "big yellow slide" — is being dismantled after 49 years of entertaining people attending K-Days at the former Northlands grounds in Edmonton – Jun 7, 2023

A long-standing feature at the Edmonton EXPO grounds was torn down Wednesday.

The Kiwanis slide, which was built in 1974, was taken down and removed from the site after 49 years there.

It hasn’t been used since 2019 and “is no longer structurally sound and needs a full rebuild,” Explore Edmonton said.

“This is certainly the end of an era,” said Arlindo Gomes with Explore Edmonton. “It’s been part of the K-Days experience for so many visitors.

“Our aim is to eventually replace it. It’s such an important piece of our community that creates so many memories.”

Click to play video: 'Big yellow slide at Edmonton EXPO demolished after 49 years'
Big yellow slide at Edmonton EXPO demolished after 49 years

Gomes remembers going down the slide as a child and has taken his kids on it as well.

Story continues below advertisement

“The slide is something that I think, for a lot of folks, has meant a lot. It’s been part of the experience of living in Edmonton, in the summer, at festivals,” he said.

“It’s a bit sad in a way but … we’re looking at how to reinvigorate this part of K-Days.

“We’re working on plans to see how we can re-integrate a similar attraction like a slide back into K-Days and make it something that’s successful not just at K-Days but other times.”

The giant slide was never meant to be a long-standing feature, according to Teresa Benjamin, a Kiwanis Club member and slide operator.

Story continues below advertisement

“The big yellow slide is not just a landmark but a tradition for so many people,” Benjamin said. “We’ve had a few celebrities, music groups. We had a group of people who tried to set a record for doing every ride in a few hours.

“We’ve had a proposal, a few wedding parties up there for photos and even a 40th anniversary for a couple that rode the slide on their first date.”

Bonnie Lynn Turner remembers the big slide fondly. Ever since she was five or six, her family started going to the Exhibition together.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said.

“We probably went up and down that slide 15 times every time we went. That slide holds a lot of memories.

“These potato bags that you sat on and you went down.”

Turner said he mother would even join them on the slide.

“Running up those stairs. I think, for my parents, that was a lot of stairs. But as a child, you never tire out. Running up and down those stairs 15 times, going down that slide, it was just something that was so much fun.

“The rides, going with my mom and dad, we met so many friends there. We didn’t have iPhones or iPads or anything. We just met friends.”

Story continues below advertisement

Turner was sad to see the old slide dismantled.

“I wish maybe they could reinforce it or do something with it to keep it there because it’s something that’s been part of Edmonton and so many people have enjoyed it so much. I just wish they could somehow try to keep it.”

The Edmonton Expo slide being taken down on June 7, 2023. Global News

The slide also helped generated charitable donations for various organizations. Proceeds from the slide — an extra cost to riders or part of all-day ride tickets — would often collect between $30,000 and $85,000.

“There’s traditions and memories for our frequent visitors, all the while it’s providing valuable charitable funds,” Gomes said. “This really isn’t just a slide; it is a support system with incredible value.”

Every year the slide would accommodate between 75 and 100 riders an hour and required about 480 volunteer hours during K-Days, and approximately 100 hours in maintenance, set up, and training leading up to the fair.

Story continues below advertisement

The Kiwanis Club also helped fund an inclusive playground for those with mobility challenges. Located at McKay Avenue School, the playground includes a tiny yellow slide. The project was part of its 75th anniversary.

Click to play video: 'K-Days returns with 10 days of Edmonton’s best entertainment'
K-Days returns with 10 days of Edmonton’s best entertainment

Now, Gomes said, K-Days is being re-imagined in a way that aligns with how Edmontonians feel about its past and future.

“We’re trying to maintain some of that progress forward with K-Days but recognize that a lot of people have that attachment to it and its history.”

Mascot Klondike Mike is still a staple, as is Klondike Park. Gomes said officials are exploring bringing back the larger K-Days Parade.

“It’s a balance of how we progress and re-imagine an event, its reinvention forward, making sure it’s relevant,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s a bit of fine balance.”

K-Days runs July 21 to 30.

Sponsored content