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Opinion: A B.C. Day tribute to Playland’s thrilling wooden rollercoaster on its 65th birthday

Hands-up - not down, the coaster is a thrilling piece of our history that makes B.C. so very awesome
There is no better way to get a view of the sunset than from the top of Playland’s wooden rollercoaster. (Photo courtesy of Playland)

As a born and raised B.C. girl who was only a short bus ride away from Playland, I’d like to pay tribute to the beloved wooden rollercoaster this B.C. Day long weekend.

The rickety rollercoaster turned 65 and I’ve ridden it nearly that many times over the years.

Playland’s wooden coaster was awesome. It always looked like it could fall apart at any minute and there was only this distant bar separating you from certain death as it takes you on a wild ride high into the sky, dropping you back down again to be whirled around in twists and turns. It was thrilling.

First, the loud clickety-clack sound the coaster made as it climbed the first big hill added to the anticipation and terror of the upcoming big drop.

As you crest the hill, the coaster pauses for a second and then sends you careening down for some stomach dropping fun.

There’s more hills, and more stomach drops and at one point you are sent over this bump that sends you flying out of your seat and almost over that bar into certain doom.

But somehow each time we survived and wanted more. My friends and I got more daring too. As the tween years turned to teenage courage, we would even dare to throw our hands up, seeing who could keep their hands up the whole ride. And because we were locals, we also got to know when the coaster wasn’t busy, often getting a second or third go in a row.

The view from the top is spectacular, showcasing all Vancouver’s ocean meets mountain beauty. There’s nothing better than riding the coaster at sunset. Even as a kid, I could appreciate that scenery.

Another great thing about the coaster is you can see and hear the screams of fun and terror before you even get through the gates of the iconic amusement park.

The rollercoaster is front and centre at the entrance and beckons everyone to not walk, but run to get your place in the very, very long line.

I was lucky to live so close to the iconic Playland and PNE. Along with our year-end school report cards, we’d always get free tickets to ride.

For the history buffs, the wooden coaster opened in 1958 and cost around 45 cents to ride. It reaches speeds of 45 mph (72 kmh). Recently, the coaster was named the top wooden rollercoaster in Canada.

There is so much to love about B.C., from Stanley Park and English Bay, to the ski mountains and swinging bridge on the North Shore, to the White Rock Pier and Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge. But the iconic Playland, and PNE, holds a special place in this B.C. resident’s heart. Classic rides like the swings, the mouse trap (which was scarier), the pirate ship and rainbow were all great rides. But hands-up – not down, the wooden rollercoaster is a thrilling piece of our history that makes B.C. so very awesome.

— Monique Tamminga is the editor of the Penticton Western News and Keremeos Review

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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