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

Lakecity gymnasts close out season with solid outing at Ogopogo Invitational

Seventeen Williams Lake athletes joined hundreds of other gymnasts at the meet

Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddlers to host Halifax group on exchange

Group will co-host a barn dance July 14 before heading to the East Coast in September

Shadow puppetry show, art gallery pieces weave web of enchantment in Williams Lake

Al-Lisa McKay displays artwork at Station House Gallery and to perform at WLST

BC conservation officers release badger from wolf trap

Badger recovering after being caught in trap near Williams Lake

VIDEO: Stampede warm-up action with barrel racing this weekend

BCBRA Stampede Warm-Up and Afterburn Slot Races running at the Stampede Grounds

Humboldt survivors to attend NHL Awards

Players say it’s a blessing to be back together again

Justice minister: marijuana still illegal for now

Driving under the influence of drugs has always been — and will remain — against the law

Crown recommends 150-years for Quebec mosque shooter

Crown lawyers say Alexandre Bissonnette deserves to receive the longest sentence in Canadian history

192 missing after ferry sinks in Indonesia

Drivers are searching a Indonesian lake after a ferry sank earlier this week

No clear plan yet on how to reunite parents with children

A lawyer has documented more than 300 cases of adults who have been separated from a child

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Most Read