Sunday marks 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. On May 19, 1953, Nelson city council voted to commemorate the occasion in two ways.
First, they renamed the Fairview playground Queen Elizabeth Park, which was considered more feasible than renaming Vernon Street, as suggested by the city’s coronation committee.
The current home of Nelson Minor Baseball was chosen for the royal honour over a bandstand in the 400 block of Vernon. The latter, Ald. Elizabeth Wallach said, would have been “an insult” to the new monarch as it was in dreadful shape.
Secondly, council resolved that a “crown in lights be erected on Gyro Park.” It was first illuminated a week later.
The crown is still there, between the park and hospital, and can be seen at night from Front Street, the lower end of Baker Street, and entering the city from the west.
There were other formations, too: a Christmas star, Valentine’s Day heart, and Midsummer Bonspiel curling rock — some of which may have pre-dated the crown.
In 1987-88, the city’s electrical department built a new metal standard to replace the wooden poles the lights hung from, and the following year, a torch pattern was added as Nelson hosted the BC Winter Games. It’s only been lit up on one other occassion, the 2010 Olympic torch relay.
By that time, the lights had been dark for 10 to 15 years, although no one’s quite sure why.
They were switched back on in December 2010 and once more a crown shone on the Queen City of the Kootenays.