Sylvan Lake can now rest easy after being crowned Kraft Hockeyville 2014 this past weekend.
The Town has been gaining support through online voting to raise money to rebuild their rink – more than $250,000 has been raised.
“I’m feeling so incredibly grateful and thankful. To be crowned Kraft Hockeyville after everyone’s effort is just so incredible. It’s a great day to be a Sylvan Laker,” said Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre, after the final announcement.
“It was totally electric. There were over 2,000 people in the room, all of us waiting for the big announcement. When it came on, the whole room went absolutely crazy.”
After weeks of suspense, Kraft Hockeyville announced the winning team on Hockey Night in Canada this past Saturday. Sylvan Lakers gathered at the multiplex to show their support and erupted in cheers as the announcement was made.
“It was just that culmination of months of work put in by teams of volunteers,” said McIntyre. “We are so grateful for the communities in Central Alberta and across the country that helped make us Hockeyville 2014.”
Kraft is now planning an NHL game that will take place in Sylvan Lake in September as part of being crowned Hockeyville 2014. CBC will also visit the community to show support and to provide updates involving the development of the new arena.
“I feel fabulous. I cried and cried and cried and couldn’t stop. I really wanted this for Sylvan,” said Sylvan Lake resident Sheila Verhage. “We give credit to our mayor for being 100 per cent behind everyone through every minute of each day during this event.”
McIntyre accepts his praise, but said the crucial people in this event were all volunteers. “They have been working night and day for so long to rally the community around this cause. They’ve done such an incredible job and we are really thankful for them.”
Graham Parsons, chair of the organizing committee was almost speechless as he came to terms with Sylvan Lake being crowned the winner.
“I’m feeling so good. You can’t describe it. I was fairly confident all week, fairly confident this morning but not so confident just before the announcement,” he said.
“Really, social media is what wins this thing, and we had an awesome social media campaign right from the start. And people engaged and spread it everywhere.”
Parsons said his heart goes out to Kingston because he knows it was a close call, and said the Kingston community also deserves the prize money. That said he is incredibly grateful for the opportunity in his town.
“However, the thank yous are not enough. This was an unbelievable team-builder for communities, especially here in Central Alberta.”
Parsons gave word the plans for the new multiplex are well underway.
The new facility includes a brand-new ice rink, a curling rink, senior and childcare facilities, a walking track, conference spaces and more. Plans have already been set in motion regarding architecture, budgeting and organizing the actual construction.
“Our community is made up of so many people that come from other places. They bring aspects from their old communities, but it can be hard to really feel like you’re a part of a new community,” said Parsons. “This event really makes people feel like a part of a larger community, and brings us together.”