The phone in Sheriff George Anderson’s office rang loudly. George picked it the receiver on the first ring.
“Hello, Sheriff’s office. This is Sheriff Anderson. How can I help you?”
“Hi George. It’s Bobby O’Conner from the Kelowna Daily Courier.”
“What can I do for you Bobby?” the sheriff asked.
“I just called to give you guys a head’s up. I got a phone call from a woman telling me that her group is planning a big demonstration for this afternoon at 2:00 PM.”
“So did she say what they would be demonstrating against?” George asked.
“Yes, their group is called Save Ogopogo. They are protesting against all the people who are on the lake hunting for Ogopogo. The group wants all these weekend warriors off the lake. She sounded very concerned because many of the would- be hunters are packing pistols, rifles, harpoons and any other weapon they can get their hands on. Some crews are bringing along large nets and iron cages in hopes of capturing Ogopogo alive.”
“Yeah, we’ve been getting a ton of complaints here at the sheriff’s office. The phones have ringing off the hook,” George said, with a sigh.
“What I’m really concerned about is the hunters finding out about this demonstration. If they catch wind of this, and they very likely will, there is the potential for a show down and possible violence,” Bobby said.
“You are probably right Bobby. That scenario could very well play out,” George said.
“The woman told me that she has already contacted the local radio stations, television stations and other media outlooks. I know that she’s telling the truth because I have been checking the local blog sites and there are a lot of posts both for and against the Save Ogopogo campaign. I’ll be going to see the demonstration because I have to report what goes down for the newspaper. I just wanted to pass the tip onto the Sheriff’s Office because I don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” Bobby explained.
When Sheriff George Anderson, Deputy Bill Rollins and William Everett arrived at the location of the demonstration it was only 1:30 PM. They took a look at Main Street in the center of town. Already a crowd was forming.
“Wow, there’s quite a large group of demonstrators out here already,” George said.” “How many demonstrators would you estimate are out here, Bill?”
“I would guess at least a hundred, Sheriff,” his deputy answered.
“My guess would be around one hundred and fifty,” William Everett added.
“Well, any way you slice it, we’ve got to make sure that this is going to be a peaceful demonstration. If the crowd gets much larger they are going to be that much harder to control,” Sheriff George Anderson said.
“I hear you,” Bill Rollins said.
“To the people in this town, Ogopogo is a very emotional issue.”
“You are right,” William Everett added. “Many people believe that the creature exists and is alive and well living in Lake Okanagan. They do not want their local legend tampered with,”
The three men looked up to see Kelowna Daily Courier reporter, Bobby O’Connor pull up in a silver van. He had a whole news entourage with him including a young attractive female junior reporter, a photographer and a camera technician. As soon as he got out of the van, Bobby huddled with his crew and drew out the game plan for them just like a hockey coach would do. He sent the junior reporter out to interview some of the people holding placards and posters. Bobby asked the video and audio technicians to follow him. They walked towards the sheriff’s cruiser car where George, Bill and William were all standing.
Bobby walked over to Sheriff George Anderson and asked George if he could interview him. Strangely enough, the sheriff was actually welcoming the opportunity of addressing the crowd and the media.
The organisers of Save Ogopogo had already taken over a large stage in the common area. It was beautifully decorated with pictures and artwork of Ogopogo. Large, colorful banners covered with slogans were also clearly visible. A few of the organisers were getting the microphones and speakers set up and were testing both the connection and the volume.
Sheriff George Anderson turned towards Bobby O’Connor and told him to gather up his crew and to follow him to the stage.
As soon as the men arrived at the main stage the sheriff walked up to a woman who appeared to be giving out orders to her charges.
George walked up to the lead organizer. She was a red haired woman with a shapely body that seemed to indicate that she worked out at the local gym on a regular basis. The lady looked like she could be in her late thirties or early forties. She was wearing a yellow tee shirt with red lettering that read, ‘Save Ogopogo’.
The woman saw George climbing up the stairs to the stage.
“What can I do for you, Sheriff? Of course you realize that this is a legal demonstration that has been given full approval by the town council. I have the official papers right here in my purse. I can show them to you.”
“Oh, that won’t be necessary. What shall I call you?”
“You can just call me Elaine,” the woman answered.
Bobby Conner took a few steps closer to the front of the stage. He looked up at the lead organiser and said, “Hello. My name is Bobby O’Connor. I’m a reporter with the Kelowna Daily Courier. I couldn’t help hearing you telling the sheriff that your first name is Elaine. May I ask you what your last name is for the record?”
“Oh, I know who you are, Mr. O’Connor. You used to report on the Kelowna Rockets when you were a sports reporter. My oldest son is a trainer for the hockey team. You are also the reporter who first broke the story relating to Ogopogo this summer. I must say that you created quite the stir in this town. My full name is Elaine Tanner for the record,” the lead organiser answered.
“Thank you, Ms. Tanner. Would it be possible for me to get an interview with you sometime this afternoon?”
“Certainly, Mr. O’Connor. Perhaps later in the afternoon. I need to have a conversation with Sheriff Anderson first. Oh, and by the way, you can just call me Elaine,”
“And you can just call me Bobby.”
“Before you start addressing the crowd I would like the opportunity to make a speech laying down the ground rules for this demonstration. I don’t want things getting out of hand,” Sheriff Anderson said.
“Oh, I can almost certainly tell you that you won’t have any problems with my organization,” Elaine said.
“That’s not what I’m concerned about. Just take a look at those guys getting out of their four by fours and pick- up trucks. Some of them are carrying tire irons and baseball bats. Those good old boys look like they’re aiming for a skirmish of some kind,” the sheriff said, shaking his head.
‘I think I better grab the microphone right now and make something clear to these would be brawlers.” George added.
George walked up the microphone stand and said, “Test, test.” When he was convinced that he had enough volume to be heard George began speaking to the crowd that was spread all about the town common.
“I can see that there are quite a few of you out here this afternoon. That’s all well and good. We have free speech in this country but I don’t want to see anyone here brandishing any kind of weapon. This is a peaceful town and I intend to keep it that way. All you boys that have tire irons, baseball bats and other assorted weaponry can take all your stuff and put it all back in your vehicles. After all, the demonstrators are only carrying placards and I don’t think it would be a very fair fight.” This remark heralded some loud laughter and applause from the Save Ogopogo demonstrators.
“I’ll now call up to the stage the Head of our Fisheries Department, Dr. William Everett.
William slowly and carefully walked the steps up to the stage. He first looked around the audience trying to get a rough idea of who he would be addressing.
“I’m not used to making many speeches but this afternoon I feel compelled to do so.
Sheriff Anderson and I have received an untold number of complaints about all the boat traffic on the lake. Tourists have been coming to our city in record numbers that we’ve never seen before. Most of the town’s visitors have come for one reason and one reason only. They have come with the intention of hunting or capturing Ogopogo. Now, I’m not saying that I believe that this creature actually exists, but I am aware of the dangerous situation that is taking place on our lake. Let me remind you that Ogopogo, if he is real, is a protected species under our provincial legislation. That means, in plain English, that no one is allowed to harm the creature in any way. If you do get close enough to see Ogopogo, remember that you can take all the photos and videos that you like. You are free to conduct interviews with Bobby O’Connor and his news crew. However, you are not allowed to take any guns on the lake or fire any shots at the creature. I also don’t want to see any harpoons sticking out of Ogopogo’s sides either. I don’t know how many of you have read Moby Dick or how of you may think it’s just John Bonham’s drum solo. But I will tell you this. I don’t want to see any Captain Ahabs out there on Lake Okanagan. If you do feel the need for that kind of adrenaline rush, I suggest you buy yourself a copy of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick at the town’s bookstore. If you find reading Moby Dick too much of a challenge, I suggest you buy a copy of Jaws by Peter Benchley instead. These statements were followed by much loud laughter from the Save Ogopogo demonstrators.
“Do you have anything to add Sheriff?” William asked.
“Only this. If I see any violent activity occurring this afternoon I will start making arrests and if this crowd gets out of control, I will not hesitate to call in the RCMP,” Sheriff George Anderson stated emphatically. “Elaine the mic is now all yours.”