A burgeoning proportion of the Canadians who flock to Arizona each winter are snowbirds of a decidedly different feather.
The Calgary Herald reported that as Baby Boomers in general, and Albertans of a certain vintage in particular, inch toward retirement and start cracking open those nest eggs, they pack their hefty wallets, active lifestyles and expensive tastes into designer bags and wing their way south to Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale and environs.
Golf, upscale restaurants, second homes and salon coiffures have chased bingo, buffets, RVs and blue hair as the cliché snowbird signature in the so-called Valley of the Sun undergoes an about face.
According to the Canadian Snowbird Association, Canucks made 895,000 visits to Arizona in 2012 and spent $923 million, a significant bump over the 649,000 visits and $746 million plunked down in 2010.
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, who was in Edmonton this month to drum up trade between Alberta and Arizona, said the impact of those Boomer Birds has been striking.
“Quite honestly, I don’t think you see the granny behind the wheel at all. Sun City and Youngtown is where you used to see most of the Canadian visitors,” he said. “They would buy a place (for their RV), then come down and stay there and they would kind of stay confined to Sun City areas.
“Those days seem to be gone. It was the guys in their late 60s, 70s, doing the bingo thing, playing golf and staying to themselves.”