Excitement is building in the City of Red Deer as the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament is set to kick off this week.
The annual tournament for Major Junior hockey’s biggest prize will officially get underway in the City when the Memorial Cup itself arrives during a special parade and ceremony, which will take place downtown on Thursday.
“From an organizational standpoint, we’re certainly tremendously honoured and proud to be the first (Albertan) team to host the tournament since 1974,” said Red Deer Rebels’ Owner, General Manager and Head Coach Brent Sutter of the event.
The trophy itself was originally known as the OHA Memorial Cup and was donated by the Ontario Hockey Association in March 1919, in remembrance of the many soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for Canada in World War I.
In 2010 the Memorial Cup was rededicated to the memory of all fallen Canadian military personnel.
Thursday’s festivities will get underway at 11:15 a.m. when the Cup is brought into Red Deer by a group of CH146 Griffon helicopters, one of which will land at Central Middle School with the trophy.
The Cup will then be picked up by a military Light Armoured Vehicle which will parade it through the streets of downtown along with a contingent of 45 Canadian Armed Forces pipes and drums and a group of military veterans on the way to the statue of the Unknown Soldier in Veterans’ Park on Ross Street, which will be the site of the official arrival ceremony.
“We’re thrilled the Memorial Cup is making its first stop downtown and we can hardly wait to welcome the community to the arrival ceremony,” said Amanda Gould, the executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association in a press release.
The free public ceremony at the cenotaph will begin after the Cup arrives at the stage in Veterans’ Park at 12 p.m. and will feature a welcome program, live street entertainment and will be capped off by the firing of a military howitzer.
“It’s been an ongoing process but it’s going to be done first class all the way and there’s a tremendous amount of excitement here in this community and in Central Alberta. There’s people going to be coming from all over Canada here and perhaps different areas of the world to watch this event,” Sutter said.
Due to the arrival parade, the City of Red Deer has advised residents that the following road closures will be in effect on Thursday including 48th Ave. from 52nd St. to Ross Street, will be closed from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; 48th Ave. (northbound lane only) from 49th St. to Ross Street will be closed from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Ross Street from 47th Ave. to 48th Ave. will be closed from 11 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.; there will be a detour north and south on 47th Ave; RCMP at Ross Street and 48th Ave. to allow left turns south onto 48th Ave.; Ross Street from 49th Ave. to 50th (Little Gaetz) Ave. will be closed from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and a temporary closure will be in place on Ross Street from 48th Ave. to 49th Ave. from the start of the parade until after the blast of the howitzer cannon.
Residents are invited to stay after the ceremonies and enjoy lunch and entertainment following the formal celebration.
Meanwhile, ENMAX and the United Way are offering a box suite for the final game of the Memorial Cup.
According to a press release, ENMAX has donated their box suite for the final Memorial Cup game (May 29th) to United Way of Central Alberta.
“United Way will raffle off this opportunity for $99 to the first 100 people who call in or show up with payment.”
Anyone interested in purchasing a $99 raffle ticket should call United Way at 403-343-3900 with credit card details, or stop by the office at 4811-48th St. between 8:30 and 4:30 p.m. with payment. Ticket sales close as soon as 100 tickets have been purchased, or on May 25th at noon – whichever comes first.
A full schedule of events related to the Memorial Cup and a parade route map can be found at www.mastercardmemorialcup.ca/cuparrival.