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Anticipation Fulfilled

January 18, 2010
  November and December were months full of anticipation in my life.  I had a marvelous surprise trip to visit my father for his birthday, and then a short two weeks later we were in the air again for a trip to Calgary to visit Calgary and see the Greycup.  When we returned home from the trips my head was buzzing from all the parties and visiting, and before I knew it was Christmastime and more visiting.  I take a moment now, to share with you events past, before the building anticipation overwhelms me again as the Olympics are less then a month away in Vancouver.
 
  Anticipation, Part One; a birthday party
 
  I take you back to July, and I am looking online for inexpensive airline tickets for November.  Excitement fills me, and I finally find the price that I am looking for.  In sharing the excellent find with my brother, he suggests a trip.   In fact, he was planning to visit our dad for his birthday in November, and when we find out that there is such a great seat sale, my husband and I decide that we can all afford to go.  My brother then makes the really cool suggestion that we keep the fact that my husband and I are coming as well a surprise.  With the help of a friend in Cranbrook, everyone thinks that it is a good idea and we make plans.
  By the day of the trip I was giggling all the way to the airport.  My brother, Steven, had already arrived in Cranbrook.  He told our dad that he was going to the movies with friends, and could he borrow the car.  My father, watching curling on television, had no problem with this idea.  Instead of going to the movie theatre, Steven drove out to the airport to pick us up.  When we got our bags he called my dad to say that the movie was sold out, and could he bring his friends over to watch a DVD instead.  Once again our dad agrees.  Sitting in the back seat of the car, it is difficult to keep quiet as I am still giggling.
  We arrive at the house and walk in.  Now I have my mouth clamped shut, and only a few muffled snickers escape.  Steven says, ‘hello’ and my father, sitting on the couch watching curling says, that he isn’t sure if he has met his friends and would he please introduce again. I wish we had a camera for when we then walked up the stairs and Steven said, "I think you remember my sister, your daughter, and her husband."  We were all laughing in minutes at the astonishment on my dad’s face.  It had been a long while since we visited together as a family in Cranbrook.  The rest of the trip was great, even if it was a bit short. 
 
 
 Anticipation Part 2; a Grey cup diary
 
  DAY ONE 
 

 The Calgary Tower

  Months of anticipation cumulate today as I pack for our trip to Alberta.  We found the biggest bags we had and filled them with an assortment of football related items and lots to keep us warm.  Since I was a young girl I looked at colours in a particular way because of the CFL.  I associated green and gophers with the Saskatchewn Roughriders, and would never be caught wearing green and gold for fear I might be seen as a fan of the Edmonton Eskimoes.
 

  Gainer the Gopher

  It is quite fortunate that my complexion suits the colours of my two favorite teams, the Roughriders and the BC Lions!

  You don’t have to tell me that they are not traditionally colours that mix well together.  I just can’t help it, even if my friends don’t understand.  

  We managed to fit the packed bags in our hatchback and set off in the pouring rain for the airport.  The first thought I had as the plane circle before touching down was, "it’s sunny and dry!"  What a welcome sight it was to see shadows again after a cloudy and rainy week.  Jeff’s dad picked us up and as we drove home he pointed out the reason for the mild weather for Calgary in November, a chinook arch dominating the sky.  That’s when warm winds rush over the mountains, blowing the clouds under pressure, creating warm and dry weather.  We made a stop at the nursing home where Jeff’s mom is living.  She has Alzheimer’s and although she doesn’t speak anymore her face was all smiles when we said, "hello."  She sure hasn’t lost her good Calgary welcome.

 

  Day Two

 

  One last quiet day before the partying.  Downtown started the festivities today with the tradition of riding a horse through the hotel.  It started years ago in Toronto for Greycup, people from Calgary thought that things were too dull and the party needed to get started.  They have been doing it in every city since then.

  There are other functions going on, but we spend a quiet morning sleeping in and the go for lunch at Peters’ drive in.

  Mmm, Peters’ milk shake

  They have the best burgers and milkshakes anywhere, bar none.  The only chill to the day was the forecast for snow overnight.  We took the opportunity to eat on a picnic bench in the sunshine while we still could.

 

  Day 3

  One of the attractions in attending Grey cup this year was that we were able to stay with family.  A quiet room and then pancakes for breakfast with homemade apple butter and maple syrup couldn’t be beat.  We were more then ready to party!

    Jeff and I donned our Greycup jerseys, wrapped up with mittens and scarves to head off to the site of our first party, Touchdown Manitoba ath the Stampede corral.  A long line up of football fans representing all the CFL teams waited in eager anticipation to enter the hall.  We instantly made friends with the fans next to us i line.  Directly behind us was a Winnipeg Blue Bombers superfan, complete with jersey, hat, air horn and team flag.  He had and admirable collection of pins from previous Greycups and different cities.  I had wished for some city pins of my own to share when he gave 3 from his home town of Winnipeg.  I promised to look for him when we came to Greycup again so I could give him some from mine.

  Once inside we found a table with some fellow BC fans.  The table had treats for the guests, including a bag of chips from Old Dutch, a famous potato chip company across Canada, with it’s headquarters in Winnipeg.  It was fantastic to see all the outfits that people wore.  One woman had a dress made from Blue Bomber flags.  Another couple had matching Tigercat costumes hand made by her mom.

 

  One fellow wore an official’s uniform and added to it a jesters hat and a white cane.  He made friends with a person who was really blind, and he told us that at first he was apologetic, he did not intend to make fun of people who were blind, but his new friend wasn’t offended in the least and they have been hanging around with each other at Greycup festivities ever since.  Some of the popular events at this party was the performance by the Bluebomber cheerleaders, followed by a pipe band and then a live band with great music for everyone to dance.  During a band break the Greycup made an appearance and they had an invitation to have your picture taken with the tropy.  We both particularly enjoyed the buffet of cheese, koubassa and rye bread laid out!

  As one party was winding down it was time we got ready for our next party.  There are many activities to go to and lots of fun choices at Greycup.  We had tickets to the Atlantic Schooners Kitchen party.  A friendly native Calgarian gave us directions, and as it had started to snow we bundled up and set ourselves to head out into the white streets.  As luck would have it, our next party was just across the driveway.  In a room at the back of the Stampede Casino the warmth from the East had begun.

  We made some friends who were Stampeder fans and scored a table right by the dance floor. It turned out to be very handy when the music started.  The Atlantic Schooners are a group of diehard CFL fans who are hopin for an East coast team.  During an expansion phase in the ’80’s they were going to have a team, but it come about due to a lack of funding for the stadium.  The fans have kept the dream alive and their motto is "still undefeated."  They have unique souvenirs including a red plush lobster hat that moves it’s claws when you pull on the chin string. It’s hilarious!  Being a kitchen party, they had lobster rolls and mussels for $10 for dinner.  The first band played a mixture of traditional eastern jig type music that got us up and bouncing on the dance floor to folk drumming and fiddle music.  It was very entertaining.  Later they had a very energetic rock band with bag pipes.  It kept us warm while outside we heard stories of streets filled with snow and horrible winter weather.

 

Day Four; Parade day

  It’s the day before the Greycup game, and thankfully the weather cleared up.  Another sunny and mild day greeted us in friendly Calgary, but being a bit worn out from dancing we skipped the morning pancake breakfast downtown for a a later one at home before we set off to check out the festivities downtown.

  Several blocks on Stephan avenue, the pedestrian walkway downtown were filled with vendors, displays and activities.  We joined lots of fans dressed in their team outfits.  Whenever we met someone in orange we were greeted like good friends.  Many, many people were wearing green and white since the Roughriders were representing the west in the big game.  I found a store with Riders souvenirs and it was packed.  Everyone was friendly and welcoming.  We got free potato chips while we watched some dancing by a group of cheerleaders.  I gave away the chips to one of the soldiers at the military display.  These men from the armed forces shoed us how they searched for buried explosives and some of the equipment they use in Afghanistan.  I felt like Ripley from the movie ‘Aliens’ holding one of the guns with a grenade launcher underneath.  Some of the other freebies were a can of diet Pepsi and a couple of slices of bacon – that was funny!  When I filled out a survey I got a small metal thermos which was perfect to take some warm tea to the game.

  There was a group of fans wearing knitted "chipmunk" hats that looked sort of like lion hats.  They told me how they got these animal hats to support the Lions for last year’s Greycup.  One of the newspapers took a picture of them, calling them chipmunks so now they plan to wear them every year.

  Fortunately we were not chilled by the time the parade started.  Even so, to prevent getting chilly from standing and watching the parade, it was still November in Calgary after all, Jeff’s dad found us a great spot in a "plus 15."  That is what they call covered walkways over the streets between the buildings.  Quite clever if you ask me!  It had a good view and it was warm too.  There was even some Safeway cloth grocery bags with goodies, a newspaper and coupons waiting for us.  We took up a spot beside a family with two sweet little kids whose dad was with the military in the parade. 

  The parade was lots of fun.  It of course stared with the parade marshal and soon after that followed the Greycup, bands, dignitaries, dancing cheerleaders, acrobatic cheer squads, cowboys, horses, clowns floats, tanks and lots of fans.

 

  One of the cowboy clowns appeared to be scooping horse droppings but he surprised the crowd by putting more out!

 

The Edmonton acrobatic cheer squad did a lift that threw one girl up almost to the level of the walkway.  The biggest group was the Saskatchewan Roughrider fans.  In the distance we could see them coming, filling the street from side to side. 

 

More and more joined the throng as they went along, pulling green fans along the route to join them.  They also had their human flame fan with a torch on his head as well as Gainer the gopher, a green Chewebacca and other marvelous getups.

  It was no wonder that when the parade was over that the lineup to Riderville, the official Saskatchewan party, went right up the stairs from the room in the convention centre, out the door, across the street, through the next building and out that door too.  Needless to say that we skipped that party.  Jeff’s dad brought us to a food fair where we had a nice lunch with the Pepsi’s we got earlier and then parted ways so we could go to the Palomino for our next party, the Lion’s Den.

  It was good to be indoors where it was warm and surrounded by fans dressed in orange!  As we stepped into the bar/club we received a warm welcome from two Felions and a couple of Lions’ alumni, Lou and Jamie Taras.  The place was quite full already, but we joined some fans downstairs next to the stage.  We met so many fans who were in or close to our section where we have season tickets.  Sheila the superfan was there with her husband.  They had won the Gibson’s fines fan contest.  She certainly deserves it as she is know to attend practices and bring the guys cookies.  I also met another contest winner who had won a random draw at a grocery store and all inclusive tickets.  How lucky!  He had only ever been to a few games. 

When the band started up we really had a lot of fun dancing.  They also had trivia contests, give-aways and a player who had won rookie of the year.  Later in the night David Braley, the owner of the Lions came out to party with us.  I got his autograph too.  It was a great time and when we left we saw a line up waiting to get in.

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