Why do I keep going to Grey Cup?
Simple question: here is the simple answer! Because it is the one truly Canadian championship in professional sport, and it is fun. And this year was no exception.
It started with a drive in the SUV from Penticton to Calgary on the 19th… good drive, followed by a great visit and dinner with son, his wife and our grandson. Was up early and made the trek north to Edmonton, a brief stop by the office and then on to visit my 101 year old mother who is now in long-term care… she was on top of her game though and had a couple of very funny stories to tell. She has a nice airy and bright room and is well treated. We concluded the day with dinner with my sister who is much healthier now that she is no longer the 24-7 care-giver. The next day, after visiting again with Mom at breakfast, returned to Edmonton and began to get ready for Grey Cup week.
You have no doubt read all about it so I will not bore you with the details. Once again joined by our good friends Jeannine (one of the two brightest people in the federal public service) and Craig (the Saint John saint) we had a mellow time. Jeannine is a podcaster (I am sure the grandkids actually know what that is) and a real authority on CFL football, especially the RedBlacks from Ottawa. Some of the week was taken up with her having to get up before 5:00 a.m. to be on a show or do a podcast — I think I might never become such a broadcaster!! There were also some great meals and a few beverages together…
Highlights: the game itself I enjoyed. The field conditions have been far too frequently the topic of critical conversation. Folks, it is November in Canada — last year it was a snow bowl without enough snow plows to allow people, including players, to see the yard markers, etc. In 2013 the game in Saskatchewan had a wind chill of -30C or better. So the field was slippery. Both teams had to play on it as did the refs. Yes some guys fell down. After all, it is football. Anyway, it was a wonderful afternoon-evening: Calgary won!! And the best part? Afterwards on the LRT and then at Boston Pizza where we had supper, there was no taunting or jeering, Everyone was either quietly eating or politlely congratulating supporters of either team. Truly Canadian in a uber-friendly Canadian city.
Also enjoyed the Atlantic kitchen party. 1,800 of us were there for the official announcement that the hoped-for Halifax based team will be called the Atlantic Schooners. The entertainment was first-class, reminded me of many evenings on PEI as the quality of music was down-home Maritime at its best.
The Spirit of Edmonton breakfast was the first time I have been to a $125 brekkie. The eggs were great as was the Sluice Juice. However, I think I could make 10 litres of the Juice and cook up a metric tonne of scrambled eggs for less money. The Ukranian Dancers were exceptional, as usual.
The Saturday night concert with Kim Mitchell and Trooper was quite okay but the breaks between the acts were longer than the Acts themselves. By the time that Loverboy got on stage the carriage had turned into a pumpkin…
The parade was good. The Fans Fun Zone was exceptional (my sister took her grandson and he told me later than the zip-line was awesome). The general attitude of Edmontonians was top-drawer.
Saturday afternoon I held my somewhat irregular Grey Cup Faculty Club party. Eighteen folk showed up and a good time was had by this rather disparate group. Some football was discussed. Some world politics was debated. Some oil vs the rest of the economy was chatted about. Good wine, good beer, good nachos, good popcorn all were consumed. Not sure when the next Grey Cup will be in Edmonton, so I cannot tell you when to be there if you want to attend.
All in all, it was a good time. It was the 12th in a row and 14 of the last 15, 15 of the last 17… Was it the greatest? Not sure that I would go that far. 2015 in Winnipeg was pretty special (Esks won) and 2011 in BC was great (BC won). But it was certainly in the top five for me. And as good as Ottawa did it hosting last year, Edmonton was the equal this time around. Next year Calgary has a real challenge to meet the bar that has been set by these two host cities.
Now I am in Montréal for an early francophone Noel…