Businesses unite for parking lot bash in downtown Maple Ridge

Most at the second annual chamber Tailgate Party stopped off at The TIMES photo booth to have their picture taken. - Roxanne Hooper/TIMES
Most at the second annual chamber Tailgate Party stopped off at The TIMES photo booth to have their picture taken.
— image credit: Roxanne Hooper/TIMES

No sun dances were required in advance of this year’s chamber tailgate party.

Unlike the inaugural event in 2015, Friday’s party was blessed with sunshine before and during what organizer Andrea Madden described as “a great evening.”

“Talk about a change in the weather,” said the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce Serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, comparing it to last year where they held it at the end of August and had to set up for the event in the rain.

“[Friday], on the other hand, was gorgeous from set up till the end, we were lucky.”

There were more than 500 people through the event, said Madden.

“This event grew considerably over our first year, in fact it tripled in size,” not only did the amount of space necessary to hold all the booths and activities, but the number of participating vendors, and in the volume of people who partied well into the evening in Chances Maple Ridge overflow parking lot at 227th Street and Lougheed Highway.

“Reactions from people throughout the event were really great, some couldn’t believe how much we had expanded in just one year and we’ve heard from others who found out too late they want to be involved next year and have a spot and those who couldn’t make it even joked they might arrange their holiday so they can attend next year.”

One of the bonuses, Madden added, is that the event still has room to grow, and she predicts it will.

“Were there challenges? Aren’t there always when you organize a large event,” she added.

‘I would say that parking was the biggest challenge, I love being in the central downtown area, but with an event of this size parking isn’t easy. I missed the classic cars too that we had last year, they were really nice to look at and enjoy.”

But after making those points, she concentrated on all the positives of the event, including the increased number of guests, vendors, activities, and prizes that helped make for a “great” event.

There was, what Madden described, as an “interesting cross section” of guests - young and old – from local MP Dan Ruimy, MLA Dr. Doug Bing, Councillor Gordy Robson, business owners, employees, friends, family, and curious passerbys – “including a little old lady who came from the casino early in the afternoon and asked about the event, even she came back to enjoy herself.”

Reflecting back on those in attendance, she said it was a fun night for all involved.

“There was always close to a couple hundred who comfortably found the beer garden and settled there, while others played the Amazing Chamber Race, curled with the winter club, played giant connect 4, or giant Jenga, had fun at the Times photo booth dressing up.. so by then the parking issue was quickly forgotten,” she said.

The chamber being a non-profit organization, Madden explained that this was a fund and awareness raiser.

“This is one of the few big events the chamber holds that helps support its efforts to support the local business community through our smaller events during the year; free networking bizniz mixers, educational seminars and other luncheons and events the chamber offers to local businesses,” she said.

It’s sponsors like Maple Ridge Chrysler, Chances, The TIMES, Impact Canopies, Peter Tam, Collins Safety  Services, Menchies, Chamber Group Insurance, Western Shrink Wrap and all the other members who participate at events like the tailgate, as vendors and volunteers, who “help make our business community stronger which in turn has a positive ripple effect throughout the entire community,” Madden concluded, confident planning will soon begin for a repeat engagement next year.

• See a collection of event photos on our Facebook page

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