Excitement in Terrace builds for Kraft Hockeyville
After nearly a year's worth of work to help the small town of Terrace, British Columbia, win the Kraft Hockeyville 2009 award, the co-chairperson of the Terrace committee and his diligent neighbors will finally get to live out their dream beginning Saturday when the festivities get under way -- two days before the Vancouver Canucks play the New York Islanders at the Terrrace Sportsplex.
"The fever's building big, big big," Park told NHL.com. "There's displays getting done at every store. It's awesome. The town's breaking loose. We've got lots of stuff planned this weekend."
Indeed, they do. From street festivals to local hockey games on Saturday to a movie night in the park and NHL alumni and officials clinics on Sunday -- not to mention a visit from Lord Stanley -- Terrace is raring to host the once-in-a-lifetime event, one that Park feels was desperately needed for the community.
"This town came together," Park said. "It was an event Terrace needed to gel us after being hit so hard in the logging industry. I think we rocked and socked them right off their feet. Our arena was on fire. We had a parade downtown with different floats. We had a phoning campaign for the voting that was unbelievable. We had everybody in the community voting. We had people from all over the world voting for Terrace."
When it was all said and done, Terrace received 1,923,456 votes to win the competition. Not only does it get to host the Canucks and Isles, but the arena also received $100,000 from Kraft in upgrades. Naturally, it will be jammed to the rafters on Monday night.
"The rink will hold just under 1,000 people, but we're going to have it broadcast in our park, so we're hoping for about 5,000 people down there," Park said. "Seventy-nine percent of the tickets are going to kids. It's really exciting. We announced the last 62 winners (Monday) night. Everybody's pumped and hyped."
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the people of Terrace will be to match the sheer joy they felt back in April when their town was named Kraft Hockeyville 2009. Certainly, it was a moment Park won't soon forget.
"We had an event in the mall and the place was actually jammed for the announcement," Park recalled. "(Co-chairperson) Carol Fielding was down there and went bananas with the mayor (Dave Pernarowski). I was involved with an event at the arena, so we had a giant screen set up in the lobby. When the announcement was there ... I'm only 4-foot-8, but I was seven feet in the air. I don't know who lifted me up. We had everybody get their picture taken with the (Hockeyville) Cup. We rocked heavy that night. People were honking their horns up and down Terrace. It was just like we won the Stanley Cup."
Although they're more than 1,300 kilometers (or 800 miles) from Terrace, the Canucks have a huge following in the small town, which they'll shortly find out for themselves. Park still can't believe the people in his community will have a chance to see their favorite team play in downtown Terrace.
Top that with the potential NHL debut of John Tavares, who was selected first in the 2009 Entry Draft by the Islanders, and the excitement is practically boiling over.
"There is such a strong following in this community of the Canucks," Park said. "It'll be great. A lot of people are anticipating Tavares and really excited about him coming. It's just going to be phenomenal."