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City approves $15K in funding for Snowbird 8 memorial

The Snowbird 8 Memorial project is about to get some extra money from the city. Council members have approved a $15,000 grant from the Public Arts Reserve for the project which would see a monument to Snowbird Pilot Gord De Jong go up at the Grande Prairie Airport.

With this money, Project Co-Chair Lloyd Sherk says they are one step closer to their goal.

“We’re excited about it really. We had set ourselves a target of $30,000 by the end of May and with the $15,000 from the city and then other donations that we have been promised or received, we’re well on our way to our $30,000 target.”

De Jong was a member of the 1978 Snowbird team. He was flying in an airshow in Grande Prairie on May 3, 1978, when metal fatigue caused his plane to crash just north of the airport.

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Sherk originally asked the city for $50,000 to help install a replica Tutor plane like the kind De Jong was flying that day but the members decided that ask was too much. After talking it through, $15,000 became the magic number.

Mayor Bill Given says this project is a good example of how communities are built around shared history.

“The opportunity to recognize important or significant events in our past is a legitimate community aim that really helps us build a sense of place for Grande Prairie. I think that’s the intent behind the memorial.”

The total for the project is sitting around $228,000. Most of the items needed such as transportation, engineering and designing services have been donated by local businesses.

The memorial is still on track to be unveiled on May 3rd, 2020. It will be the 42nd anniversary of De Jong’s death and the 50th anniversary of the Snowbirds.

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