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Wild Gyro Park 'Foam Party' generates $5,700 for central Okanagan fire relief efforts

It was the surprise event of the Penticton summer. An early September party at Gyro Park celebrating the end of the season and punctuated by a giant cannon that eventually enveloped everyone in a super-sized cloud of foam.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

It was a laugh riot.

And Friday afternoon a cheque for $5,700, representing the final proceeds from the event, was handed over to the Penticton Fire Dept., which in turn will use it to help with disaster relief in the central Okanagan, hit so hard by wildfires this year.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Kiwanis' Greg Holland and Katie Weitz, PFD's Trevor Tougas and Andrew Bird

It's a great story that began in August when friends Katie Weitz of the Kiwanis Club of Penticton and Ana Magnusson of Penticton biz Amuzing Fun Rentals got together and figured the city lacked an end-of-summer bash. So they started organizing one.

But halfway through the month, the temperatures and the winds went crazy and the Okanagan was walloped by a rash of serious wildfires -- the most serious of which was the wicked McDougall Creek blaze in West Kelowna.

So Weitz and Magnusson changed tack. At first they put the event on hold, thinking it was frivolous in the face of the wildfire threat. But that didn't last long. Rather than cancel, why not make it a benefit event?

And that's what they did.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

With support from the City of Penticton and Magnusson's own business, they brought down the cost and hoped they'd make enough from Amuzing's carnival-type games and food vendors to present a healthy cheque to the PFD.

Directly after the event, they gave them a $4,100 cheque. But after all the vendor proceeds were counted, that total hit a whopping $5,700.

On hand for the presentation at Fire Hall #201 Friday was incoming Kiwanis prez Weitz and current prez Greg Holland, and PFD firefighters Andrew Bird and Trevor Tougas.

"We called it the 'End of Summer Bash and Foam Party,'" said Weitz later. "It was going to be just a fun party, but then we wanted to do something with a much bigger impact.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"Ana from Amuzing partnered with us to help organize it, and the City of Penticton became one of the main sponsors. We were thrilled with the community response."

For Trevor Tougas, who's also the head of the Penticton Firefighters Charitable Society, the words "fantastic" and "awesome" immediately sprang to mind.

"It's fantastic to see the community come together like this," he said. "It was obviously a disastrous summer for our neighbours in West Kelowna and Kelowna and now lately in Peachland, and to be able to contribute like this is awesome."

Tougas explained the money will go directly to the wildfire relief effort.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"The West Kelowna and Kelowna fire departments both have charities and right now they're handling the disaster relief fund for this. So we'll be giving this to them."

And that left one question. Will we see another End of Summer Bash and Foam Party in September of 2024?

"Oh, it's definitely on our radar," smiled Weitz.

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