Ross Munroe, community coordinator for special events and volunteers with the City of Maple Ridge, paints one of about 25 circles in the grass in Memorial Peace Park to indicate where each group of people can sit to enjoy the concert series. Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

VIDEO: City of Maple Ridge introduces summer concert series and drive-in movie events

Summer Happenings runs until the September 12

City of Maple Ridge is hoping to inject some fun back into the summer with a series of live concert events and drive-in movies.

Organized by parks, recreation and culture department, Summer Happenings will feature live music events in Memorial Peace Park and drive-in movies in the back parking lot of the Golden Ears Winter Club during the next several weeks.

It won’t be able to replace the city’s large festivals like Country Fest, Caribbean Days, or Car Free Day, said Yvonne Chui, the city’s arts and community connections manager.

But, she said, it will provide some fun options for people during the summer.

“We decided to re-imagine our great outdoor parks and recreation spaces within the province’s public health guidelines and provide a safe but small-scaled experience for residents, families, seniors, and visitors,” explained Chui.

Each gathering will contain less than 50 people – with priority given to participants who pre-register.

“Dr. Henry uses the phrase ‘fewer faces and bigger spaces,’ which is a great way to describe our approach,” said Chui.

“City staff will be organizing and running them similar to other outdoor summer programming being offered such as day camps, group fitness, and Hammond Outdoor Pool,” she continued.

Plans for the program series have been in the works since late spring.

READ MORE: City of Maple Ridge rolls out summer entertainment options

There will be one entry point and exit point for both programs where staff will be greeting and directing participants.

Staff have spray painted large circles in the grass surrounding the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park to allow families and individuals to follow social distancing measures.

At Golden Ears Winter Club, where a 10 by 6 metre screen has been painted on the outside wall, cones will be set out to mark the distance between vehicles and participants there will be required to stay in their vehicles at all times – unless they need to use the washrooms, located within the curling club.

Washrooms for the Memorial Peace Park concert series will be located within the leisure centre. Washrooms at both events will be monitored and cleaned throughout the evening, she assured.

Barricades will be erected around the program sites with signage about physical distancing and a barricade will be placed at the entry way at each site to block incoming people and/or vehicles once the program is at full capacity.

People who have not pre-registered for the event may still have an opportunity to participate, said Chui, depending on space availability.

They will be put in a separate, physically distanced lineup.

“But we do encourage people to pre-register,” she said.

Staff have been trained for new health procedures and will be wearing PPE. In addition, staff will be monitoring the perimeter of the events.

There will also be announcements made on stage reinforcing the message about safety guidelines.

So far, lots of people have shown interest in the events, noted Chui.

“A number of municipalities across Metro Vancouver and Canada have indicated that Maple Ridge is one of the first to offer some live outdoor performances and opportunities,” said Chui.

“The safety of our citizens is at the heart of all of this work. We want people to have great memories of the summer of 2020 and feel connected as we all stay apart to keep the curve flat.”

Summer Happenings will take place rain or shine. However, an announcement will be made on the city’s social media platform by noon the day of the event if there is a cancellation due to a “severe” weather issue.

Happenings for a Small Stage takes place Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. until Sept. 11 in Memorial Peace Park.

Entertainers include: Cambree Lovesy & Jackson Hollow; Etienne Siew & The Good, The Bad, The Banjo; and Marlin Razzimini; Journey Through Polynesia (Paul Latta Dance); the World of Rhythm; and more.

Tickets are $2.

Drive-in Movie Happenings takes place every Saturday at sunset, about 9 p.m., until Sept. 12 at Golden Ears Winter Club, 23580 Jim Robson Way. Movies include: Trolls 2; Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; Dolittle; Frozen 2; The Lion King 2019; Maleficent: Mistress of Evil; Onward; and Aladdin. Tickets are $5 per vehicle.

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