Celebrate island life and support Orillia’s Aqua Theatre

Orillia’s time-worn will benefit from an upcoming celebration of island life.

Proceeds from a Caribbean-flavoured Island Princess boat cruise on Aug. 19 will support the Rotary Club of Orillia and a revitalization of the lakeside stage.

Organizer Janice Thompson is mounting the event as a thank-you to the club and city in recognition of the positive impact the waterfront has had on her life as she contends with medical issues.

“I wanted to contribute back,” said Thompson.

A two-hour, ticketed cruise is billed as the main event during an otherwise free Jamaica Day reggae festival at Couchiching Beach Park from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The day includes Caribbean food, clothing booths, music and dancing.

“It will be mostly Bob Marley music,” Thompson added.  

The Aqua Theatre was erected at Couchiching Beach Park in 1958 by the local service club with assistance from the community.

The club and the city are working to refurbish and improve the theatre while renewing interest in it as a performance space/community hub.

In a nod to that vision, four cedar trees were recently planted along the fence next to the grassed seating area to improve viewing conditions when the sun sets during outdoor movie nights.

“That row of trees is going to be dedicated on Sept. 1 to some people that were key in getting the Aqua Theatre built,” said club president Andrew Shuttleworth.

Council approved $225,000 in the 2018 capital budget for the first phase of work, including a new slab floor, repairs to the exterior, sand blasting and painting, and a new steel roof.

Staff will seek an additional $225,000 for a second phase, including a revamped viewing area, during 2019 budget talks.

Recommendations stemming from a recent design exercise exploring proposed enhancements include a sloping roof structure and replacement of existing seats with moulded, stadium-style seating.

The recommendations have been provided to the club for consideration in their fundraising efforts.  

Tickets to the Aug. 19 cruise are $65 and include live music and dinner.

The cruise runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Island Princess office starting Aug. 15.

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