Dino days: A Grande celebration

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grande Prairie's first Aykroyd Family and Friends Dinosaur Ball and Celebrity Dino Dig is now underway.

The dig, which is taking place at Pipestone Creek near the town of Wembley, is only one of a variety of events that will take place over the weekend.

The event, which plays host to a number of high-profile celebrities from across North America, is to raise money for the Phillip J Currie Dinosaur Museum. The stars will be taking part in the digging and excavation of dinosaur bones, as well as a red carpet ball and silent auction. The celebrities will also enjoy local entertainment in the evenings.

Excitement was rampant as the celebrities took to the bone beds Thursday, after a few weather-related mishaps, flight delays and luggage misplacement.

Dr. Currie, who was on the bone beds is really digging the event.

"It sounds a little cliché, but it's really exciting," he said. "And for me, I find it a little hard to believe. My life has kind of gone like a dream."

The facility will highlight the region's dinosaurs fossils and serve as a space for learning, science and fun.

Dr. Currie said that he is not so much excited about the "glory" of having the museum named after him, but instead for the opportunities it will present. He hopes the museum will be able to put the region on the map and finally give the area's numerous fossils, dinosaur bones and other paleontological treasures a place to call home. Not to mention the chance to expand the digging in a region that is notorious for its wealth of dinosaur bones and fossils.

"It gives us an opportunity to develop (the site) further and show that we've got something pretty special here," he said. "There should be something bigger and better here."

Canadian star Dan Aykroyd and his wife Donna Dixon Aykroyd were approached to help organize the fundraiser and get other celebrities interested in the site. The family had visited the paleontological site last year, and were happy to return.

"Even now, going back for another time, it is so hard to fathom, that we're actually digging up these huge creatures from 70-million years ago," said the couple's daughter Stella Aykroyd, 13. "It's great to be back."

The fundraiser is off to a great start. Tables for the Dinosaur Ball were sponsored from $5,000 to $25,000, and all 70 of them were sold by April. The waiting list for next year is already growing.

Pipestone Creek is approximately 30km southwest of Grande Prairie.

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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