Jubilee Hall – near the Langley-Abbotsford border – was recently the scene of a fire – or at least anyone passing by the old rural hall would have thought so.
Given the fire truck parked out front, sirens sounds, and the crews bustling around outside the building on Bradner Road – just east of Glen Valley – it looked like something bad had befallen the historical community hall.
If it wasn’t a fire that prompted such a call out, then maybe there was a movie being shot. But actually, both guesses would be wrong.
It turned out to the makings of a surprise 40th wedding anniversary bash – with a flaming twist.
Cory and Carol Wunderlich were marking four decades of marital bliss and heading out for dinner to celebrate.
Since the couple help manage the old neighbourhood hall, their family knew they could never pass by an emergency there without stopping to ensure everyone was okay and see if they could help.
“It went great. They fell for it and didn’t even recognize family and friends disguised as firefighters,” said Erik Vogel, a Langley resident, friend of the family, and retired firefighter who helped facilitate the ruse.
With looky-loos milling about, flares deployed, hoses run, emergency pylons marking a safe zone, and various people adorned in old turnout gear, Wunderlichs had no idea they’d rolled up on mock emergency.
Afterall, the couple’s nephew – somewhat shielded so as not to be recognized – was directing traffic and telling them there had been a kitchen fire and suspected gas leak at the hall.
Thinking the firefighters incompetent, Cory pulled over and immediately leapt into action. He went to shut off the gas line, Vogel said, and it took several family members and the so-called emergency crews to stop him, and redirect Cory inside the hall – to where about 50 family and friends were ready with a surprise party.
It wasn’t dark yet, but the scene was “very convincing,” said Vogel, who given his years of fire service and access to props was able to make the scene look quite authentic.
Vogel helps out with the Kamloops-based project called Operation Nicaragua – run by David Sakaki. During the past several years, this group has taken emergency machinery and equipment – considered out of date by Canadian standards – ensured it’s still operational, and delivered the gear to various villages in Central America.
The fire truck, which was the key to this anniversary ruse, was an old rig out of West Vancouver that was donated to Operation Nicaragua by Langley’s Ian Thompson of 911 Filmcars Inc.
As well, Vogel pulled in five bags of fire gear that were recently donated to the project from Delta.
Because of the political unrest and fighting in Nicaragua at present, Vogel said the fire truck, supplies, and two decommissioned ambulances are still waiting to be shipped.
Members of the Wunderlich family – Carol’s sister Marlene Roman and husband, Pat – recently donated $1,000 to the Operation Nicaragua project, and specifically towards tires for the fire truck, Vogel explained. So, when the family asked him about using the fire truck for the surprise party, Vogel quickly jumped aboard and helped built on the ruse.