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Penticton  

Too big a bond to break

Ann Meacham isn't sure whether she will ever see the people gathered at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Saturday afternoon again.

It was a gathering of former Greyhound bus drivers and employees, a final party to celebrate what was once an inter-provincial family network that dissolved when Greyhound pulled its western Canada services in October. 

Around 150 former employees showed up to mingle at the event organized by former driver Meacham that was paid for in part by pop cans and bottles left on Greyhound buses over the past few years. But it's a far cry from the party she was originally planning. 

"I was told about two and a half years ago that Greyhound wouldn't give us any more money for retirement parties, and I'd been putting on retirement parties for many years so I thought 'Oh great, mine's probably the next one, so I guess I'll have to put on my own,'" Meacham said. "Then of course we got the news we were losing our jobs, so I decided to make something worthwhile."

She cashed in $2,000 worth of recyclables and planned the bash in Penticton for the long weekend with golfing, barbecues and a supper event at the Trade and Convention Centre. People gathered from around western Canada and from as far away as Prince Edward Island, eager for the chance to to celebrate the Greyhound family one last time. 

"We've always been a close knit group of people, we've had parties for years, especially in this area," Meacham said. "It's hard to see that go where we might not see each other again. That was the hard part."

Meacham, who spent 26 years driving a bus to and from Vancouver and the Interior, has kept meticulous records of the Greyhound gatherings she has been a part of over the years. She brought several large photo albums to the party Saturday, filled with photos of Greyhound employees and their families, reaching back decades.  

As she turned the pages, others stopped by, pointing to faces they knew and reminiscing. Meacham said as much as this weekend's event has been wonderful, it's also emotional, knowing things will never be the same. 

"I really enjoy organizing these parties, I'm going to miss it," she said. "But it's just too strong a bond that we've built over the years for it to end."



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