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Catch free family fun at YVR

A magician, dancers, singers, a caricaturist and a face painter ...

A magician, dancers, singers, a caricaturist and a face painter ... do these entertainers conjure up images of a local summer fair?

Well, all of these performers are taking part in Vancouver International Airport's Take Off Friday summer series -- free family fun, which also includes tasty treats from airport merchants, such as Starbucks, Jugo Juice smoothies as well as Daniel Le Chocolat Belge, BG Urban Café and others.

The concept for Take Off Friday arose from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, said Chris Gilliand, manager of retail and passenger services at the Vancouver Airport Authority.

"Through the Olympics, March 1 was probably one of our busiest days," said Gilliand. "So, we brought in some live entertainment and got merchants involved to entertain the tens of thousands of travelers going through the airport."

He added travelers were so pleased that last summer YVR management decided to make it a yearly summer event.

This year, YVR has expanded Take Off Friday in the international terminal as well. There are also a few other firsts.

Visitors to the observation deck will be able to watch live demonstrations by YVR's Airside Emergency Response specialists.

"They will host 30-minute shows at 11 a.m. every Friday," he added.

"We are also having a money machine where people who spend $10 in any store have a chance to go in the booth, similar to a telephone booth, and for 15 seconds try to catch as many YVR bucks as they can."

Those YVR Bucks can be spent at any store in the airport, he added.

YVR's Public Observation Area is also open for behind-the-scenes look at the airport itself. Kids of all ages can look at planes coming and going through one of the many high-tech telescopes, or check out footage from the airport community or explore Sea Island through an interactive model.

Take Off Friday runs every Friday from now to August 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in both YVR's domestic and international terminals, Departures Level 3. On Friday, July 22 there will be a special Take Off Friday as the YVR celebrates its 80th anniversary.

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