Stephanie Gannon hangs streams of lanterns from the ceiling at the small arena at the Cariboo Memorial Complex in anticipation of this weekend’s dry grad.

Arena transformed into Caribbean Night for Williams Lake Dry Grad

Thousands of hours of effort put into decorating arena for new graduates

Year after year the small arena at the Cariboo Memorial Complex is transformed into a magical location for new graduates — usually thanks to a small group of dedicated and creative people.

This year’s decorating crew was made largely of Angie Brinoni, her husband Michael and her kids, who put in 2,200 hours of work building and repurposing decorations to create a magical landscape for grads.

This year’s theme is Caribbean Nights, and the arena is complete with magical jelly fish, pirate ships, a kraken, palm trees, surf boards and even Johnny Depp makes an appearance. Many volunteers have had their hand in helping set up at the arena, beginning Monday evening, with the hopes of having it finished by Thursday afternoon.

Brinoni said that to design something like this, she starts with a scaled drawing of the arena, and then does concept drawings of the different areas she wants to build.

“I draw the pictures and then my husband, who is an architectural engineer technologist figures out how to build it.”

Years’ worth of decorations are stored at the Chimney Lake school and part of the fun of decorating is seeing what can be repurposed to fit the new theme.

This is Brinoni’s second year co-ordinating the grad set-up. Her first time was three years ago when her daughter graduated and the theme was “Night Circus.” This year it’s her son’s turn to graduate.

It’s fun doing the decorating, said Brinoni.

“I love it. It’s great, it’s nice to make a drawing and make it come to life.”

Not that you can tell when the place is decorated and the magic of grad happens, but the most mundane materials are used to create the most interesting of things — used coroplast becomes tiki faces, old canvas becomes beautiful murals, coral is made from pool noodles, an old boom box becomes a ship.

A beautiful wooden sign greets graduates as they walk into the space, made and donated by Oliver Tritten of OT Timber Frames. But until the Saturday night of dry grad, the rest is a secret for the graduates of 2018.

“I really hope the grads love it,” said Brinoni. “And I really hope they keep doing it, because sometimes it is the only big party they have in their life. Not everybody goes to university, not everybody gets married, but everybody gets a grad.”

Graduation festivities begin Friday, June 9, with the Skyline Graduation Ceremony taking place at 1 p.m. in the Gibraltar Room.

The Lake City Secondary Graduation ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m. at the big arena in the Cariboo Memorial Complex (grads should arrive by 5:30 p.m.).

Dry Grad takes place on Saturday June 9. The Dry Grade parade starts at 6 p.m. and will travel down Second Avenue, make a left on Borland Street, and then left onto Third Avenue. It will turn right onto Proctor Street and then continue through the Cariboo Memorial Arena parking lot.

For those hoping to check out the dry grad decorations inside, there will be guest viewings (a pass is required) from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday evening.


Tara Sprickerhoff photo Angie and Michael Brinoni helped build the bulk of the decorations - including this chainsaw carved Kraken for this year’s dry grad, the theme being “Caribbean Nights.”

Just Posted

Evacuation alert boundaries reduced for communities north of Quesnel

Communities west of the Fraser River remain on alert, including Nazko, Baker Creek and Blackwater.

Rebuild of fire-damaged Lakeview mill aiming for full-production by Feb. 2019

The company said it hopes to resume full production by February 2019.

Update on wildfires in the Cariboo, Aug. 14

Progress made on fires of note in the region

Beaulne appointed vice-principal of Lake City Secondary School

School District 27 has announced Kristina Beaulne has been appointed vice-principal of LCSS

Evacuation alert lifted for 57 properties in Houseman Road area

The Houseman wildfire is now considered being held and is 100 per cent contained

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Most Read