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Bench honours cruise founder

A unique bench honouring the man who brought a huge car show to Penticton was unveiled on Friday.

City officials and members of the Penticton Historic Automobile Society were on hand for the event recognizing the late Ken Paton at Rotary Park.

"This is not just a bench, it is a piece of public art that will be enjoyed for many years to come," said Mayor Garry Litke, of the bench that resembles a vintage car seat. "People have already started getting their pictures taken here."

Paton, described by Litke as a car guy, who had oil in his veins, always dreamed of hosting a high calibre car show featuring classics, antiques, hot rods, trucks and motorcycles.

In 1999, the society was formed with the purpose of producing a premier three-day car show in the city. Paton was the first president and the first Peach City Beach Cruise was held in 2001. It has since grown to become one of the biggest shows in Western Canada.

Paton, the man who made it such a success, died in 2011.

Society president Wayne Wood said they started thinking about a way to pay tribute to Paton as soon as they knew he was ill.

"We thought of doing something a lot after that, running through many different ideas and came up with this one," he said.

The bench project was headed up by director Ken Lakusta and was designed and made in the city by Gerry Houghton of Theme West Studios.

Not only does it look like a seat, at one end there is also a simulated car door. It is made of aluminum and powder coated for durability.

Its permanent location is on a concrete pad at the park, situated so that people sitting on it can view the always passing parade of vehicles along Lakeshore Drive.

Lorna Lyons-Paton, Paton's partner, said the dedication meant a lot to her and the placement of the bench was perfect.

"This is just phenomenal. When Ken put the show on we parked our two cars right in the parking spaces where the bench is now," she said.

The city council has also proclaimed the first day of each Peach City Beach Cruise to be known as Ken Paton Day in the city.

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