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Having recently started a family of my own, my eyes have suddenly been opened to the variety of activities that are offered in Prince George for children and families. I always knew they were there, but I’m just starting to realize their value! There is so much to do with kids in our city, and everywhere we go, people are very friendly and welcoming to all. I know Prince George is a great place to live, but what a great place to stop for a visit too! You can experience new things, show the kids some great scenery and learn some things along the way. There’s a lot to love about PG and many reasons to visit; here are just a few:
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park is a great place for families to stop while traveling through Prince George, whether for a picnic, an afternoon walk, or a chance for the kids to burn off some energy. Accessed from 18th Avenue or 20th Avenue, just off Queensway Blvd., the park is an easy detour off Highway 97 South or Highway 16 East. There is plenty of green space for running around or spreading a blanket, as well as picnic tables and benches scattered throughout. There’s a large playground complete with swings, jungle gyms, and more. Another highlight is a kids’ waterpark for the hot days. For extra fun, extend the park visit to the Exploration Place for some science and history (see below)!
The Exploration Place
Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre, located downtown at the 20th Avenue side of Lheidli T’enneh Park, offers fun for the whole family and is a unique stop for both locals and tourists. Instead of stopping for lunch at a rest area on the side of the highway, travelers can stop here to give the kids a break, stretch and eat lunch; then the kids can visit the play area and view the science and history exhibits to sneak in some summer learning during their playtime. Try to visit the Exploration Place at a time when the Little Prince is running! This steam engine trail weaves for a couple kilometres through the park and is a delight for everyone – the young and young-at-heart! After the train ride, be sure to hop off for ice cream in the train station.
Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum
If you have a child who likes trains, the Railway and Forestry Museum, just off 1st Avenue/Highway 16 East on River Road, is a must stop attraction. The opportunity to explore will entice both kids and kids-at-heart (aka adults who still like to play). Sure, you can view trains and more models of chainsaws than you thought existed, but what makes the Railway and Forestry Museum really unique is that you can actually climb into the trains, push the buttons, and pull the levers. You won’t find many “do not touch” signs here – what a way to entertain an inquisitive kid! You can walk through the Takla coach to see where workers used to reside and eat meals, and then compare that with the classy Nechako coach, which was at Expo ’86, and where Prince Charles and Princess Diana once took their tea. The Museum has a train playground and many special events throughout the summer and beyond, such as Friends of Thomas Days and Family Day, where the Cottonwood Minitrain runs, giving kids a chance to look at the trains while riding one! Also be sure to check out the Urban Orchard: over 100 fruit trees (including haskap, blueberry and raspberry bushes), which help the museum to be self-sustainable and showcase what can be grown in PG. Some of the produce goes to the Northern Lights Winery and some goes to local shelters.
Park Drive-In Theatre
With only three drive-in theatres left in British Columbia, there aren’t very many chances to bring your kids back to “your era”; leave the iPads at home and experience a bit of history and entertainment at the Park Drive-In Theatre in Prince George. Located on Chief Lake Road (accessed off of Highway 97 North), movies on the 3200 square foot screen at the Park Drive-In Theatre run from May to September. And don’t worry about snacks – the concession offers all the classics you need for the movies, from nachos and hot dogs to candy and popcorn – yum! The park area also has go-karts and mini-golf on the weekends, so make it a full day of fun!
You’re hungry. You need a drink. You’re going out for dinner or lunch. But it’s gorgeous outside and the thought of sitting in an air-conditioned restaurant makes your heart sink. No worries –Prince George has a great offering of fantastic patios to choose from, for whatever you’re craving and whichever part of town you’re in. It was tough work, but I took the liberty of indulging myself at the best of them to let you know which are the best of the best.
Cimo Mediterranean Grill
Hands down, Cimo Mediterranean Grill is my favourite restaurant in Prince George. And the fact that they have a stellar patio in the summer is icing on the cake. Located downtown PG along Victoria street, they have pasta to die for, great sandwiches, delicious coffee and a fantastic wine selection. When it comes to lunch or dinner, I usually go intending to try something new, but at the last minute cannot resist my favorite: the angel hair pasta. It seems simple with baby shrimp, roma tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil but it’s seriously the best, and you’ll love it… again and again and again. Grab a spot in the sun on the cozy patio, start with the tapas platter and a flight of wine and you’ll be beyond satisfied when you leave! The service is true class all the way too.
The Keg is the Keg in any BC city from what I’ve seen – you know you’re always in for a good steak, or my favorite, king crab legs – but their patio in downtown Prince George is a gorgeous escape from the hustle of George Street, and the fact that it’s a short trip from where I work makes it a great spot for an after-work glass of sangria on a sunny day. The patio here is quite unique, with comfy cushioned seating and a pretty water wall at one end. I usually order an appy or two with my red wine sangria and couldn’t ask for more.
Similar to the Keg, you’re in for a consistent meal at our PG Earls, but many locals will tell you that this patio is the best in our city. Situated in the middle of town, along Highway 97, their patio is definitely one of the biggest in town and has canopies for the summer sun and heaters for the evening cool. When I went recently, I ordered the fish tacos with an amazing pomegranate vanilla mojito, which along with the palm tree décor, made me feel as if I were almost in the tropics. This patio is definitely great for lounging with friends during the afternoon, meeting for lunch or fueling up for a night on the town. The servers are beyond friendly here too!
The Alpine Pub & Grill
At the north end of town, in a quiet, laidback area called “The Hart” – a happy spot for me, given this is where my family lived in my teen years – resides the Alpine Pub & Grill, on the corner of Kelly Road south and Vellencher Road. My visit here for this post was my first time on the patio and I was impressed with the simple, chill feeling of the place. As you may have guessed, the pub looks like a Swiss alpine style house and the patio is surrounded by trees and bushes, and is very quiet. The food is decent – your usual pub fare is available, with good daily specials – and the service is friendly. I had the turkey clubhouse, which was tastier than most I’ve had. This is a true “locals” pub with a friendly spirit.
I wanted to highlight the best places for a full meal, complimented with adult bevvies, but if lighter fare, coffee or dessert is your pleasure, there are a few great places worth mentioning:
Originally written for the HelloBC blog.
We are so lucky to have access to so much green space in Prince George. Locals and tourists alike can appreciate our selection of beautiful parks within city limits, whether for picnics, walks or a much-needed break from travel.
Cottonwood Island Park
Situated along the Nechako River, Cottonwood Island Park is a system of trails good not only for walking, but biking and running, and with many paved sections, is accessible to everyone and anyone. There are many different entry points, including the main one next door to the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum along River Road, accessed from 1st Avenue/Highway 16. You’ll find picnic tables and a covered picnic area here as well. If you’re up for a longer walk, one trail even crosses underneath the train bridge and Highway 16 East, and connects to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
In the heart of downtown, Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park flanks the Fraser River, giving stunning views of where our two rivers connect and the cutbanks across the Fraser. There are many trails throughout the park, with picnic tables and benches, as well as a playground and a water park for the kids. There are tons of leafy trees in the park, offering midday shade or beautiful lighting when the sun starts to go down.
LC Gunn Park
Located right across the Fraser River from Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, and accessed off of Highway 16, is LC Gunn Park, a 3.5 km trail along a steep bank above the river. This quiet walk gives you amazing views of the city and is also good for biking. And if you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry – plenty of fencing will protect you at the viewpoints while you take it all in!
Connaught Hill Park
Make sure you visit Connaught Hill Park, off of Queensway Blvd., in the summer so you don’t miss this amazing panoramic view of the city. Walking around the top of this park will give you views of everything from UNBC to the Fraser River and the Nechako River and is a great spot to break for a picnic as well.
Cranbrook Hill Greenway
One of my favorite places to stroll with my dog (leashed only) is the Cranbrook Hill Greenway behind UNBC. There are tons of different trails (over 25 km of them!) and access points to this area (like Forests for the World, another fave!) so there’s always somewhere new to go on any given day. The trails are beautiful and quiet, and there are lookouts and a couple small lakes to visit. Wildlife, including moose and bears, are known to frequent the area, so keep an eye out!
Originally written for the HelloBC blog.
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind about Prince George, but this city has a wide variety of locally owned restaurants. And even more than that: the food they create is amazing. Our restaurants seriously serve some of the best meals I’ve ever had, and there are many stops that visitors to PG must try before leaving. This list can by no means do justice to the many local restaurants that stand out, but these are what I’d consider to be the top five local dishes to indulge your senses in Prince George.
Angel Hair – Cimo Mediterranean Grill
Cimo Mediterranean Grill is my favourite restaurant in Prince George, largely due to the fact that they serve the absolute best pasta dish I’ve ever had –the Angel Hair. The dish seems simple, with baby shrimp, Roma tomatoes, garlic, and basil, but served atop pasta that is made fresh in house, and with local focaccia bread and a glass of red wine, it’s a dinner (or lunch) that can’t be beat. The service at Cimo is incredibly friendly and, located along Victoria Street, the summertime patio offers great people watching too in the heart of downtown.
Beef Noodle Soup with a side Spring Roll - Thanh Vu Restaurant
One fact that often comes as a pleasant surprise to out-of-towners and newcomers is the abundance of ethnic cuisine that our city boasts. From Indian to Thai and Japanese to Persian, Prince George has whatever your tummy desires. So of course, at least one of my top dishes has to represent this amazing array of cuisines. You can get phenomenal sushi and amazing butter chicken here in Prince George, but my absolute favourite ethnic meal comes from Thanh Vu, a Vietnamese restaurant on Highway 97 South, across the highway from the Treasure Cove Hotel and Casino. The beef noodle soup is a huge bowl of steaming hot delicious broth filled with (wait for it…) noodles and beef (surprise!); it’s packed with flavour and super satisfying. Don’t forget the hot sauce! I always order my soup with a spring roll or, if I’m there with other hungry folks (which is always), the deluxe appetizers platter, which has a couple spring rolls, salad rolls, Imperial rolls and dragon prawn rolls. You can’t go wrong with any of this –Thanh Vu is a must try!
Flaming Nancy Burger – Nancy O’s Restaurant
If you’re into hip, trendy joints with friendly staff, live music on the weekends and a huge beer selection, you must visit Nancy O’s. You can read all about what a great place this is on the HelloBC blog, as I’m here now to tell you that if you’re craving a burger, definitely go for the Flaming Nancy Burger. This burger is huge, juicy and messy – everything a good burger should be – and it’s over the top with the heat from jalapeno and poblano peppers, and jalapeno Havarti cheese. Order this with a side poutine and your favourite bottled beer. Trust me. Nancy O’s, located on 3rd Avenue, is the perfect last stop after spending an afternoon perusing some of our great shops downtown –and I say “last” because once you see their beer menu, you won’t want to leave.
Fish Tacos - White Goose Bistro
Who doesn’t love a good fish taco? Fish tacos may be a novelty lately, but hopefully they are a menu item that will stay on at the White Goose Bistro. They certainly know how to do it right. Crispy tortilla, tangy house made pico de gallo and a good sized extra crispy piece of fish –along with their standard two sides of salad and fries- makes for a very satisfying meal. Recognized as an outstanding business by the PG Chamber of Commerce the White Goose, located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Dominion Street, is a staple of our downtown core. Be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner and try this great meal.
Milkshake – Hart A&A Burger Bar
While technically not a “dish” per se, the last item on my list has to be included simply because I will go out of my way and drive the 15 minutes up the Hart Highway (Highway 97 North) from downtown just for this one thing: a butter pecan milkshake from the Hart A&A Burger Bar. Whether you’re just pulling into PG or on your way out, the Burger Bar is a must stop and will be a family hit. With over 25 unique flavours to choose from such as English toffee, bubble gum, fruit punch, and the well-known classics, I’m sure you’ll find your favourite (and probably several).
Where to ride is a tough decision these days in Prince George.
While trying to decide what trails to ride one day, my riding partner and I mutually commented that there were almost too many choices. Although not a bad thing, I will admit I have a difficult time riding all our local trails in a given season. Prince George has multiple areas to ride, with levels to suit all abilities and interests. Otway has added close to one new trail every year for the past 5 years and I am almost certain the Pidherny Recreation Area has exceeded that.
Along with the growth of our trails, is the growth of the riders. People ask me all the time why I think there has been such a huge growth. My answer is simple and always the same: because it’s fun! As a mountain bike instructor, I coached about 40 brand new riders this past season. When I say “brand new”, I mean people who have never ridden on dirt before. Some of these people literally bring their fresh new bike to the lesson and have not even ridden it yet. And the best part is seeing their smiles when we are finished!
For a beginner starting out, the best place to visit would be Otway. These trails are located in the midst the Otway Nordic Center ski trails on Otway Road and are all single-track trails. There are 2 full green trails, many blue rated options with a few black mixed in for a lot of variety. For a beginner, I recommended doing a loop of Home Run and Tin Can Alley. If you have a little more experience but questionable fitness, take Home Run-Inside Passage-Midway-Karma; and yes, there are maps posted at all the major junctions making navigation a breeze. If you are more experienced and like a good workout, get yourself up to the Doghouse via Curves-Espresso or Karma-Twister-ACDC, all great climbs. You can do a couple loops up top including Java, Cyclone and Cross Cut to easily fill an hour and a half. If you like “old school” technical riding, check out Tree Hugger and Adams! Otway has something for everyone, even some fun little air time opportunities on Cyclone and Tornado Alley.
Pidherny is generally considered a little more advanced than Otway, only because it has some steeper/ technical sections that are not as easily avoidable. If you are a beginner rider, I would suggest parking at the top parking lot on Foothills Blvd., which is directly across from Vellencher Road. A beginner option would be to take the green Foothill Access trail all the way to the Ten Dollar/Flow Job trailheads. Both Ten Dollar and Flow Job are blue rated, but do-able for a beginner; just ride slower your first time so you don’t accidently get air on some bumps or roots. Both these trails take you down to the mid-way point of Pidherny, where you can do repeated loops going back up Ten Dollar. Note that Ten Dollar is the only two-way trail to get you back to the access trail, so caution when going both directions. I would not recommend going much further down if you are a beginner, because you still need to get back to your vehicle at the top. Some people will park a vehicle at the bottom and shuttle up to avoid the climb back out.
If your skill level suits some steeper descents, start with the blue access trail from the top parking lot all the way to the start of Papa Woods. You can then take any of the trails from here including Papa Woods, Carcass and Dixie noting that all have Technical Trail Features (TTF’s), most with ride arounds. If it’s your first time down one of these, ride with caution and check out the features first before attempting them. You can also descend the more advanced Valve Job or New England Clam Chowder (NECC), which both come off the blue access trail before you reach the Papa Woods trail-head. These will pop you out on a quad trail; hang a right, then a left, bringing you down to the start of Ditch Pig, which will take you a little further down. If you need to get back to the top parking lot, you can head back up to the road and then up Ten Dollar and along either access trail. Or you can plan to shuttle and avoid the climb.
Pidherny also has some extremely challenging technical cross country loops that are better accessed from the lower parking lot, and are located on both sides of Pidherny Road. These include Climb It, Pulaski, Front Porch, McLeod on the east side of the road as well as Gus’ Grind, GXC, Peanut Butter, Big Ass Hill, Sidewinder and Ridge XC on the west side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you that most of these have advanced technical sections and some challenging climbs! Note that the east side trails are currently not on the Pidherny Recreation Site trail map, as they are out the previous boundary; this includes the bottom of Valve Job and NECC. The future map will have these east side trails as the boundary has been extended. I highly recommend you have a map on hand as there are currently no trail maps posted within the trail network, only in the parking lots. Even with a map; however, you may still get a little lost. If getting lost if not your thing, I recommend you try to ride with someone local who knows the trails.
Be sure to bring water with you and maybe even a small snack. Also, a spare tube or patch kit, tire levers and a pump may prevent a “less fun” walk out. You can access links to trail maps and other local cycling information at www.pgcyclingclub.ca. Stay safe and have fun!!
PMBI Level 1 Instructor
Fem Bike BC
Perhaps because the outdoors are so beautiful and impressive here, or because sports culture and facilities are so exceptional, many people might not think of Prince George as British Columbia’s northern arts capital. Having made a life in the arts here, I can tell you confidently that it is just that, and I’m always excited to share with visitors and locals alike why I think so. The opportunities to experience and engage with professional and community arts here are hugely outsized for a regional centre.
The Prince George Symphony Orchestra is Canada’s northernmost professional orchestra, and one of the longest continuously operating professional orchestras in Canada. (Full disclosure: I am thrilled to be the PGSO’s General Manager). Every year, the PGSO hosts outstanding guest soloists from all over the country and indeed the world, but what’s really amazing is our local musicians. The orchestra has a core of highly-trained professional musicians who lead sections made up of a combination of local pro freelancers and skilled volunteers (and a few freelancers flown in from other centres to supplement key roles). All the PGSO’s professional musicians are involved in the arts community in multiple other ways; many are the music teachers who form the next generation of local talent, and all play in other musical ensembles and settings.
Theatre North West has had one of the highest per-capita subscription rates of any professional theatre company in Canada. (Full disclosure: I used to be TNW’s Marketing and Development Officer). As a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, TNW hires professional actors, designers, and theatre artists from all over the country, creating its own teams and productions from absolute scratch every single production. I’ve often heard remarks to the effect that people are amazed that the quality at Theatre North West matches what’s available in major centres—but it should come as no surprise, not least given that TNW brings you literally the same individuals you would see onstage in those very cities, here united around a northern heart beating at the creative centre. What also surprises people all over this country is that Prince George is not just a town with a theatre, it’s truly a theatre town, whose support for TNW rivals the support shown to any professional theatre in Canada.
Two Rivers Gallery curatorial insight, exacting conservation standards, and inviting community outreach bring the city not just beautiful art of the highest quality, but lively aesthetic and intellectual challenges. I must especially applaud their commission of “Balance” by Peter Von Tiesenhausen, which stands right outside their front doors, and which is a thought-provoking and superlative sculpture that I think could be a serious contender for the next Mr. PG.
Judy Russell and Enchainement Productions bring us incredible dance and musical theatre opportunities that invite comparisons to all-professional productions. (Full disclosure: the PGSO is about to undertake its biannual collaboration with Judy’s dance company on their production of The Nutcracker; so excited!). This past summer, the Sound of Music was heard by an impressive succession of packed houses at the PG Playhouse, and I’m sure Evil Dead: The Musical will be this fall as well, before they launch into The Nutcracker just in time for Christmas.
As a winter city, it’s perfectly apt that ColdSnap!, our folk and popular music festival, livens up our winter with some of the best Canadian and international artists around, up close and personal in intimate venues around town. I would be remiss not to mention the contribution some of our most stalwart arts venues have made—and not just the big ones like the CN Centre and Civic Centre. Books & Company, Nancy O’s, Groop Gallery, the University of Northern British Columbia, the Exploration Place, the Prince George Public Library, and the College of New Caledonia all provide a home not just to music and visual art, but also to Prince George’s thriving literary arts scene. We are home to a range of brilliant and widely recognized local writers, especially poets, to the degree that no less a luminary than Toronto publisher and poet Jay MillAr called Prince George “the secret poetry capital of Canada.”
With all the amazing talent we have working on both the creative and management sides, and with the inspiring level of support the community provides to its artists and arts institutions, I am so glad to be a part of the city’s forward momentum in the arts. I’m hopeful that the national recognition and community pride stirred by the Canada Winter Games will continue to bring out the best in us, and without a doubt, it’s the arts’ turn to take centre stage in our city.
#takeonpg Yoga at Connaught Hill Park with Sufey Chen.
Anyone with a pup knows that our four-legged friends quickly become an important member of the family and it’s great to bring them along on family vacations. As nice as it is for them to not be separated from the family, travel can be tough on them. With this in mind, I like to know where to stop to let them have a good run and take in some fresh air (among other dog-attracting smells), rather than random stops on the side of the highway. Prince George has some great open spaces where dogs are free to roam.
Ginter’s Field, named for the man whose grand house once sat at the top (but is now just leftover rock walls and stairs), is a beautiful space of field and trees right in town. Park in the gravel lot at the top of Massey Drive, just west of Ospika Blvd. and let the dogs run free in the large field or go for a bit of a hike. Trails run up to the old house ruins, which offers a nice view, and you can even continue climbing up the hill all the way to UNBC for a bit more exercise. The pups will like it either way!
Tucked away off of Foothills Blvd., between Ospika Blvd. and First Avenue is a huge expanse of woods and meadow that is a real treat for people and dogs alike. Trails connect to the meadow from many directions (Foothills and the residential areas surrounding it), but once inside the wooded area, you can easily forget you’re in city limits. The trails are all leashed areas, but as soon as you hit the open area of the meadow, dogs that are under control can run free. This is a surprisingly big area, great for walking or jogging with your pup. Keep in mind that although you’re in the city, it’s still very wooded, so do be mindful of wildlife encounters and how that may affect your canine friend. On my most recent visit to the meadow, I saw a fox bouncing through the grass; I do suggest carrying bear spray, just in case!
If your pup loves freedom, but requires a bit more containment, the fenced-in dog area at Duchess Park is a great fit. With two fenced areas (one for small dogs and one for large), dogs can meet some friends and burn off their pent up energy. Located on Ross Crescent, in the Prince George bowl, the park also features a large accessible playground and bike park, perfect for entertaining the kids while the dogs have their own fun. Pack a lunch or grab something from the nearby Parkwood Mall to make for an enjoyable afternoon with the whole family.
Tourism Prince George is excited to announce a new event series for our sport stakeholders: the SportPG Speaker Series! These informal training and networking events will be a great opportunity to learn about a topic at the heart of sport hosting from a local expert, network with fellow sport stakeholders, and enjoy some tasty food and drink, all courtesy of Tourism Prince George. Mark your calendars and register today, you don't want to miss out!
Four evening sessions are planned to be held in the Kin 1 Lounge on Tuesday evenings throughout 2016. Click on the links below for additional information.
Each attendee will be entered into a draw to win a FREE registration at the 2017 CSTA's Sport Events Congress in Ottawa in Marcy 2017! The more SportPG Speaker Series events you attend, the more you'll be entered to win. Click here for more information on Sport Events Congress.
Camping near Prince George is something everyone should experience. Whether you’re looking for a full hook up site, or a remote bush camping experience, the options are endless. Although there are far too many great locations to cover in a short article, I will highlight three of my favourites. These three locations share one main trait – awe inspiring beauty.
Purden Lake is one of the more popular destinations around Prince George for camping. It has everything from a georgeous lake for fishing and swimming, to a hiking trail system where you’re bound to see spectacular views or even some of the resident wildlife.
Located 64km east of Prince George, this location is ideal for a night’s stay if you’re just passing through, or are looking for somewhere to stay for an extended visit. The campground features 78 sites, of which 12 are tent only sites. Reservations are available online to secure your favorite spot in advance, but for the last minute traveler, there are also first come, first serve spots available.
Whiskers Point Provincial Park
Even though this location is a little bit further from Prince George, Whiskers Point Provincial Park should not be overlooked. Located approximately 100km north from the outskirts of the city, this is an ideal location for people heading north on towards the Alaska Highway.
This park is equipped with everything from horseshoe pits to volleyball nets and is sure to have something suitable for the whole family. One of the best parts though, is the sheltered sandy beach – the perfect place for a mid-day swim, or just relaxing in the sun.
There are 59 sites available at this campground with running water in the facilities nearby. Similar to Purden Lake, there are both reservation as well as first come first serve sites available.
Rec Sites near Francis Lake
For the campers looking to enjoy a more rustic, remote setting, there are rec sites scattered throughout the area. One of the most beautiful areas to enjoy is the rec sites near Francis Lake, which is located roughly 40 kilometers south east of Prince George.
Not only is there a great rec site at Francis Lake, but there are also 8 other rec sites in the area to choose from – most of which, are also waterfront on the shores of other nearby lakes and rivers.
These rec sites are located in remote areas and are strictly on a first come first serve basis, so be sure to have a back-up plan in place in the event that they are full upon your arrival. These sites have no services, but there is endless opportunity for the ATV enthusiast or outdoors person to be able to go right from the front door of your tent or trailer.
Although these three locations don’t even begin to touch on the amount of camping opportunity in the area, no matter what the type of amenities you’re searching for, you will be able to find just the place near Prince George. Trailers, tents, full hook up, or remote – you name it, you’ll find it.
Copyright N. Trehearne 2015
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