Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 17, 2010
Park it here say K of C
Knights become basilica's parking angels, guiding drivers to the right spot
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - When hundreds of people show up at St. Joseph's Basilica for a Nothing More Beautiful event, volunteers with the Knights of Columbus help divert potential disaster in the parking lot.
"Anytime there is something that is attractive where a lot of people are coming around, they will park all over the place. You can't just let them go park themselves or else probably about a third of the parking lot wouldn't be used properly," said Ed Matheson, an Edmonton knight.
Matheson and his brother knights oversee the parking at the basilica, a service that they are pleased to do. Eight to 10 volunteers help at every Nothing More Beautiful event.
Vehicles arrive as early as 5:30 p.m. and are still pulling in after 7 p.m. The volunteers direct drivers where they should park their vehicles, in an effort to make the most efficient use of the space and ensure safety.
"Then on their way out, we manage the exit because sometimes we have people parked end to end, and they must be able to get out safely. There's always somebody there to help them back up and go ahead, back up and go ahead. You know how it is when you're in a tight spot," he said.
The main parking is in Connelly-McKinley Funeral Homes lot.
One evening, along the southeast corner of the lot, Matheson saw a young woman with her baby. The woman had locked her keys in her car, and needed assistance to get back in and retrieve them.
Rod Attwell, general manager for Connelly-McKinley, contacted a tow truck driver who later arrived and helped the woman get into her car. Connelly-McKinley paid for the service.
"If somebody is in distress, they are there," said Matheson, grateful to Connelly-McKinley Funeral Homes for the free parking and other assistance.
Drivers also park by the nearby hospital and at the Chinese church, Mary Help of Christians. Passenger buses park along Jasper Avenue, on the north side of the basilica. Once the buses have arrived, the remaining parking spaces are used for cars. The Knights organize the parking along 113 Street, also for buses.
The Knights deter drivers from parking in front of residences.
"We don't want to be disturbing the residents, the people who live around there. Someone will come by and say, 'There's a parking spot' and he parks there. Then the guy who lives there comes home 15 minutes later and has nowhere to go," said Matheson.
Especially in the cold winter months, the harsh elements are detriments that the Knights have learned to deal with.
"When it's cold, you've got to dress up in about three or four layers of clothing and put a parka on and everything else. It's a lot of standing around, but you've just got to keep moving and stomp your feet, do whatever you need to do.
"When you're used to doing things like that outside, even on the farm when you grew up, you learn a few things," he said.
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