B.C. travellers are used to ferry sailing waits on long weekends, but it’s not every day they get a show while waiting at the terminal.
On Monday of the May long weekend, Departure Bay terminal in Nanaimo had rows of vehicles waiting to board a ferry to Horseshoe Bay.
Among them was Eddy Alexander, who watched as a few monster trucks drove into the waiting lines to board the ferry around 3 p.m.
“A lot of people were frustrated with how long things were taking,” he says.
But then, one of the nearby vehicles started to move.
“All of a sudden, this dragon pops out,” Alexander says.
One of the monster trucks had a hydraulic system where a dragon could rise up and down from the bed of the truck.
“He came out of the back and stood up. The arms were moving up and down, the head was turning side to side. It spits out fire.”
The monster truck is called Megasaurus and is owned by Straight Up Racing. It was racing at Saratoga Speedway in Black Creek, a small community on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, over the weekend.
Bill Payne, who controls the dragon, says his crew wanted to lighten the mood at the terminal after noticing people were becoming frustrated with the wait.
“I was the one that was trying to be the adult and said, ‘No, we’ll get trouble. No. we can’t do that,’ ” he says. “But, they just kept being persistent.”
Eventually, he told the crew they had three minutes to get it out and put it away. They rushed down, opened the curtain, brought up the dinosaur, and blew some fire.
“And put it away real quick before any of the ferry workers got there,” he says.
Lots of children ran over to the dragon and were screaming in excitement.
The fire-breathing moment was captured by Alexander. In the video, a BC Ferries staff member can be heard saying: “May I have your attention, please. The oversized vehicle with the dragon, can you please stop with the fire?”
That drew a laugh from the lineup, said Alexander, adding the driver was in the process of lowering the dragon at the time.
The executive director of public affairs at BC Ferries says the fire trick was not in a controlled area where “we could ensure there were no flammable or dangerous goods.”
“There would have been a potential risk to passengers,” says Deborah Marshall. “While we appreciate the operator of the monster truck was entertaining the passengers, safety is our number-one priority so we asked them to stop displaying the fire-breathing dragon.”
Alexander says he understands why BC Ferries asked the driver to not use the fire-breathing dragon, but he enjoyed the show anyway. “It lightened up the mood for everybody.”
Payne says the trick put a smile on people’s faces.
“There were people that were like ecstatic” he says. “People were chanting: ‘Encore! Encore!’”
Now, Megasaurus and the team are headed for Regina. They’ll be on the road with the show until November.
“That’s kind of our job, is putting smiles on faces all over,” says Payne.