Kevin Egan has been vacationing in Parksville with his family every year for about 18 years now.
Travelling from Calgary, he’d grown up spending time in Tofino and Kamloops, but found Madrona Beach Resort in Parksville to have one of his favourite beaches to share with his kids.
But the dilemma of entertaining his then-young offspring on the beach eventually resulted in a new tradition he continues to this day.
“(At first) I kind of drew some race tracks on the beach for them to race around in, to get them exhausted, and I found that I was getting more exhausted,” said Egan. “So I started making them more and more elaborate until pretty soon they were big, giant mazes and they were running on it for hours trying to figure them out.”
Now Egan is back in Parksville, and he’s been creating his huge mazes lined in the sand for more than a week.
He figures over the years he’s made more than 50 mazes, which have grown to entertain more than just his children.
“My kids run around on it, and then other kids are doing it and they think it’s super cool, and they spend time running around, and their parents are trying to figure it out,” said Egan. “I’ve met people from Germany and from the U.S., from around Canada, and from Holland and stuff over the years.”
Egan is always working to make his mazes a little more difficult to figure out. “Every year, somebody walks in the maze and says it was easy because of this, and then I go, ‘OK,’ so I don’t do that anymore. And so every year it gets harder and harder and harder.”
It can make for a sometimes entertaining, sometimes frustrating experience.
“I had an engineer from Vancouver swear and scream at me because he didn’t think (a maze) was doable,” said Egan. “His wife came down and asked what was going on. I told her the secret and she figured it out pretty quick and he just walked away, just livid.”
But Egan said he’s more excited by the positive attention the mazes get.
Some people think they are artwork, which Egan said is a nice compliment, but not his intention.
Nonetheless, he spends an hour or two on each maze, some of them big rectangles, others in the shape of an orca or starfish.
Some of these can be seen through Google Maps Streetview images.
But ultimately, the mazes are doomed to disappear after a few hours, washed away as the tide comes in, making way for another maze.
Egan said he’ll be leaving Friday, July 14, so people can look forward to perhaps one or two more mazes this year.