Monday, September 27, 2010

16 locations | Chance to see different side of famous local landmarks

(published in the Daily Gleaner, September 27, 2010; written by Adam Bowie)

Some of Fredericton's most interesting buildings threw open their doors Sunday and invited local residents and visitors to peek behind the curtains at places such as The Playhouse or the city's new water treatment plant.
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James West Photo
Nick Cole, the head electronics specialist for The Playhouse, gestures to Evan Greenfield, 4, while explaining the blueprints that go with set designs.

The effort was part of the city's fourth annual Doors Open event.

Tours were held between 1-4 p.m. in the following locations: city hall, the Lighthouse on the Green, the Northside Fire Station and Training Complex, the York Street Fire Station, the E. John Bliss Water Treatment Plant, The Playhouse, and at an Astral Media radio station.

Visitors were also given the chance to visit the following sites on the University of New Brunswick campus: Sir Howard Douglas Hall, the William Brydone Jack Observatory, McCord Hall/Ice House, Memorial Hall and the Provincial Archives.

Others visited some of the city's historic churches, such as the Brunswick Street Baptist Church, St. Paul's United Church, the Wilmot United Church and St. Dunstan's Church.

Participants strolled down city sidewalks with family and friends, cameras slung around their necks.

Janet LeBlanc, who was in town visiting friends, said she's been to The Playhouse many times, but it's always fun to see what's going on backstage.

"We usually only see what's happening on the stage, but it was nice to check out the rehearsal room and to learn a bit more about this place," she said.

"We enjoy this sort of thing, walking around and checking out what's going on downtown."

Jill Scaplen, marketing director for The Playhouse, said it was a chance for visitors to see behind the curtain.

"We're giving them some history on The Playhouse, taking them on a tour of the facility - at least as much as we can, since (Theatre New Brunswick) is loading in their first show of the main-stage season," she said.

"We're very excited about that and it gives these visitors a wonderful opportunity to see how a professional show is assembled before the curtains part."

Lauren Arnold, a counsellor at city hall's visitor information centre, said lots of interested people toured the council chambers and viewed the city's historic tapestries.

"It's been a lot busier than an average day at this time of the year," she said.

"We've done quite a few tapestry tours. They take about half an hour and every time one of us finishes a tour, the other (information officer) is ready to go back up with a new group of people."

She said people from around the world have been taking advantage of the Doors Open event.

"We've had some locals coming through, but there have been a lot of tourists around," she said.

"We've had tourists visiting from different parts of the world - like people from Europe, Australia and so many other places."

Mayor Brad Woodside said it was a chance for people to see the public building in a different way, and to learn about the significance of the city's tapestries - woven by Dr. Ivan Crowell as part of Fredericton's bicentennial celebrations in 1985.

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