A local playground is drawing international buzz.
Fodor’s Travel, one of the world’s oldest publisher of travel information and advice, lists the playground at Saanich’s Cadboro-Gyro Park among 11 unique playgrounds around the world.
“This waterfront park has a beach, a zipline, and giant concrete sea creature sculptures to play on,” writes July Wick, the author of the piece. “Visitors can slide down an octopus tentacle or climb on the giant green sea serpent named Cadborosaurus, or “Caddy” for short. Caddy draws on a local legend of sightings of a sea serpent in Cadboro Bay in the 1930s.”
“Saanich is thrilled to have Cadboro-Gyro Park included in a list of such creative and well-loved playgrounds, and appreciate the recognition,” said Eva Riccius, Saanich’s senior manager of parks. “Our goal is to continue to provide high-quality experiences in parks to create fun outdoor places for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
The park itself received its name from Cadboro Bay and the Gyro Club, which bought the original 4.37 acres of land, according to the District of Saanich. The club donated the land to Saanich for a park in 1954 and Saanich began purchasing additional properties in 1961. It underwent repairs in 2014 at a cost of $430,000.
That included new play equipment purchase and installation, safety surfaces, removal, renovation and re-installation of the concrete creatures, octopus, Cadborosarus and salmon.
Today the park has a size of more than than 15 acres (six hectares) in size, and District officials consider it the “jewel” of the local park system because of its ocean-front location, and yes, Cadborosaurus and the octopus.
The legend of Cadborosaurus stems from reports dating to the 1930s that claim to have sighted a sea monster in Cadboro Bay. Witnesses describe it as a 30-foot long serpent with the head of a horse. A newspaper report of the period started to call this would be Leviathan ‘Caddy’ — short for Cadborosaurus. This mythical figure has since inspired books and even an episode in the Canadian television show, Mystery Hunters.
But the park does not need media to generate attention. It draws a steady crowd of children swinging and climbing on the playground equipment under the watchful eyes of their parents and the curious eyes of others strolling along the beach.
Thousands pack the park in early August when the District hosts the Cadboro Bay Festival, which features an annual sand sculpture competition. The park also draws large groups of youth that often give Cadboro Bay Beach had a feel of Daytona Beach during Spring Break.