City lighting the candles on the Calgary Tower’s cake

News source from CTV News

50 years ago this week, the Calgary Tower opened to the public for the first time and the group that manages the attraction says all visitors will be able to enjoy a special birthday gift.

Originally called the Husky Tower until it was renamed in 1971, the Calgary Tower used to be the tallest structure Canada west of Toronto.

Though it has since been dwarfed by the numerous skyscrapers that have gone up in the city since, officials say it still remains one of the city’s premier attractions for tourists.

Katie Urness, general manager of the Calgary Tower, says it’s a great time to celebrate the building on its anniversary.

“Even though we’re not the tallest, we still have amazing views and they are unobstructed, but it’s more about the story. We are in the heart of Calgary, we want to tell the story of Calgary and that’s what we’re all about.”

To help mark the occasion, there have been a few new additions to the facility, including a brand new media room.

“Where the theatre room is now, it used to be our retail shop but that has expanded and been moved to the main floor. So we thought this was a great opportunity to add more to our guest experience and really highlight the last 50 years with this amazing piece.”

The theatre features a special video presentation that is a tribute to the construction workers who helped build the Tower.

Some of the men who worked on building the tower have fond memories about the building too.

“I feel privileged and honoured to have been part of the crew that worked on, at that time, the Husky Tower,” said Doug Wagenaar, a drywaller. “Looking around, the skyline has changed so much. It’s different. The Saddledome wasn’t there, none of these high-rises were there.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the Calgary Tower is a special place for him and for all Calgarians.

“It is such a symbol of who and what we are,” Nenshi says. “As I always remind people as we are speaking in public is what we’re looking at, the lands around us, the confluence of these two rivers, is a place where people have been coming for thousands of years.”

For the special celebration on Saturday between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., staff at the Tower will be hosting a family-friendly block party featuring a 1960’s era drive-in theatre, 50 percent off admission to the Tower and free ice cream.

The Palliser Parkade is also offering 50-cent all day parking rates.

Construction on the Calgary Tower began in 1967 and it was opened to the public in 1968.

For more details on the Calgary Tower’s Block Party, you can visit the official website.

(With files from Kevin Fleming)

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