Oct. 29, 2014 – Heritage Park, the city’s history place, reached some historic milestones of its own during the closing weekend of its 50th anniversary year, Oct. 11 to 13.

More than 8,000 guests explored the park during the Thanksgiving weekend, which marked the close of the summer 2014 season.

The attendance marked a 16-per-cent increase over previous years.

“It was just such a beautiful long weekend weather-wise,” said Communications Specialist Barb Munro.

“It wasn’t too surprising to see that much of an increase.”

The closing weekend usually features free amusement rides for visitors. However, for 2014, Heritage Park included all rides with the price of admission to celebrate its golden anniversary.

“The free rides will now be ongoing, as something that started in our 50th year,” Munro said.

On Monday, Oct. 13, the park was humming with families taking one last opportunity to visit the historical village for the season.

In the Conklin Amusements section of the park, visitors stood in line for up to 20 minutes to catch a ride on the Whip, the Caterpillar, or the Ferris wheel.

The candy store and ice cream shop were brimming with guests looking for a little something sweet as they wandered through the historical village.

“This is our favourite part,” Carey Gervais said as she and her three children enjoyed ice cream cones from the Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour.

“It feels like we’re in the old times, sitting in here with our ice cream.”

In honour of the Thanksgiving holiday, three homes in the village offered demonstrations for cooking pumpkin in different ways – in pies, soups, or as a vegetable side dish.

“We always offer the pumpkin demos at Thanksgiving,” said Munro.

“A lot of people don’t tend to think beyond the pumpkin pie, and so we offer lessons that might just change the way they use pumpkin at home.”

Throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, guests also had the opportunity to experience a full three-course turkey dinner in the village’s Wainwright Hotel.

Just down the road, next to the Weedon schoolhouse building, the Burns Barn offered barn dancing for all park guests.

“We’ve been doing the dance on the holiday Monday the last few years,” Munro said.

“We find that people enjoy it because it’s something they wouldn’t normally do, but if it’s right there as part of the day’s festivities, they try it out.”

Guests young and old took to the dance floor in the old barn, dancing to the calls of the dance leader and a live string band.

“This was just an amazing experience,” said Francis Dodd, after learning and performing one of several barn dances taught to visitors during the afternoon.

“I’ve never thought of doing that, and now I can cross something off my bucket list that I didn’t know was there in the first place.”

On the Glenmore Reservoir, the S.S. Moyie reached an incredible milestone on Monday afternoon, as it surpassed a total of 100,000 passengers for the 2014 season.

The captain of the steamboat called up to the administrative offices as he embarked on one of his reservoir tours, and informed them that “he thought they’d hit the 100,000 mark” when the next group of passengers boarded.

“He stopped this one family from boarding, congratulated them for marking 100,000 passengers for us, then walked them to the boat and saluted them and gave them a certificate,” said Munro.

The captain, who has run the S.S. Moyie for 15 years, reported that the ship had never carried so many passengers in one season throughout its 45 years of service.

With history being made, Heritage Park closed its gates after a successful 2014 summer season.

“We had decent weather, and the park just looks beautiful at this time of year,” said Munro.

“It’s no wonder so many people came out.

“Everyone, including staff, enjoyed it.”

Heritage Park will reopen its historical village and amusement park in May, 2015, but has many special events planned throughout the winter.