The Kiwanis ‘big yellow slide’ which was built in 1974, is a familiar memory to many Edmontonians who took a bumpy ride down at the annual Klondike (K-Days) Exhibition. The attraction, which hasn't been used since 2019, was removed from the Expo grounds this week because it is no longer safe.
“This is certainly the end of an era,” said Arlindo Gomes, Vice President of Business Development for Explore Edmonton. “It's been part of the K-Days experience for so many visitors. Our aim is to eventually replace it. It’s such an important piece of our community that creates so many memories.”
The Kiwanis Club in Edmonton built the slide on the exhibition grounds in 1974 as “something fun to do.” But by all accounts, no one had intended for it to be there for more than four or five years, according to Teresa Benjamin, a Kiwanis Club member who operated the slide in different capacities starting in 2010.
“The ‘big yellow slide’ is not just a landmark but a tradition for so many people,” said Benjamin. “We’ve had a few celebrities, music groups. We had a group of people who tried to set a record for doing every ride in a few hours. We’ve had a proposal, a few wedding parties up there for photos and even a 40th anniversary for a couple that rode the slide on their first date.”
Beyond that, the slide provided valuable dollars to local and international groups. Proceeds from the slide, whether that be an extra cost to riders, or part of all-day ride tickets, would be donated and often ranged between $30,000 and $85,000.
“It’s really hard to put into words the impact that this slide has on our community,” said Gomes. “There’s traditions and memories for our frequent visitors, all the while it’s providing valuable charitable funds. This really isn’t just a slide. It is a support system with incredible value.”
“Other than the Giant slide we are probably most recognized for 'The Kiwanis Music Festival' which was a staple for junior high band programs for years,” said Benjamin. “On the lesser-known side of things our group has done, we have assisted in funding the build of a mobility challenged inclusive playground at McKay Avenue school, including a tiny yellow slide, as our 75th anniversary legacy project.”
Every year the slide would accommodate between 75-100 riders an hour and required about 480 volunteer hours during K-Days, and approximately 100 hours in maintenance, set up, and training leading up to Alberta’s oldest and longest running fair.
K-Days, without the big yellow slide on-site, runs from July 21 – 30, 2023.