I have to admit I’m biased. I’m from Calgary, with much of my family hailing from the great city of Vancouver, so when we received an invitation to participate in the British Columbia Experience on April 8th, 2010 in Justin Herman Plaza across from San Francisco’s Ferry Building, I jumped at the chance.
Under a gorgeous San Francisco sun, Tourism BC kicked off of ten days of British Columbia Culture, aboriginal dance, a 3D Art Installation, and (of course) a 680 ft. zipline from Embarcadero centre. This gathering of all things wonderfully BC will continue until April 18th, and is free to the public.
Considering how direct the spotlight was on Vancouver and British Columbia during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, it was great to see the organizers ride that momentum in creating something so British Columbian in the heart of the Bay Area. During the Games itself, a zipline was run over Robson in downtown Vancouver, drawing locals and tourists alike to line up for upwards of 5 hours to get the chance to soar above the city itself. Capturing that sense of fun and community, The British Columbia Experiences welcome San Franciscans to fly over their own city, free of charge.
At the kick-off, the Le-La-La Dancers, a traditional Aboriginal dance group from the Kwawaka’wakw Nation of northern Vancouver Island, BC, spoke of their pride in presenting British Columbia to San Francisco, and performed a traditional dance. Following that, Olympians Shani Davis and Ashleigh McIvor discussed their desire to draw residents of the Bay Area to British Columbia this summer. Davis, an American, spoke of just how kind all of the Canadians were from the moment he landed for the Games, and, as a result, he’s taken it on himself to help promote the region to visitors. Again, I’m biased, but hearing about how nice Canadians are never fails to melt my heart. McIvor, originally from BC, spoke of her love of the US, saying that her coach is American, her agent is American and that, with a laugh, she “tends to date Americans too”.
I got a kick out of seeing San Franciscans on their lunch break gawking at people streaming across the sky while they ate their sandwiches on the sidewalk, and it was even better to see a few grab a waiver form and hop into a harness. The staff of the event, most imported from British Columbia for the duration of the promotion, were kind and supportive, even when yours truly screamed like an idiot on the way down.
As spring finally, well, SPRINGS in the Bay Area, The British Columbia Experience is a perfect chance to fly over your own city while learning more about the culture, people, and hospitality of our Neighbors to the North. For more information on The British Columbia Experience, please visit www.HelloBC.com.
The British Columbia Experience, presented by Tourism BC, runs from April 8th to 18th from 10 AM to 7 PM in Justin Herman Plaza on Embarcadero Square in San Francisco (across from the Ferry Building). It is FREE to the public, and there are no age restrictions, though you must be at least 65 lbs to ride the zipline.
All photos by Amy Widdowson / Flickr