I was lucky enough to become involved in the Sylvan Lake Pond Hockey tournament this year.
I was on the organizing committee; I did some volunteer work up to and including the weekend of the tournament itself.
On Saturday, March 13, at about 8 a.m., I was standing on the lake looking at Lakeshore Drive.
All along the shoreline, men started to wander onto the lake. They wore assorted jerseys and carried sticks and skates over their shoulders.
Some of them came alone, and others came in groups of three, four and five. Some looked like they were still asleep while others carried the roll-up-the-rim cup that is as Canadian a symbol as the maple leaf itself.
For me, it was truly a Canadian moment, and worth the effort so many good people put into making this weekend happen. But as awesome as that moment was, the real value in the tournament is the growing potential it has to businesses, particularly along Lakeshore Drive in Sylvan Lake.
There was a liquor permit and a beer garden on the lake for this event.
It mainly served players who had an hour between games, and would not have had time to remove their skates and hike up to Lakeshore Drive for a cool one before they played again.
The beer garden was not open in the evening on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Concessions offered were smokies, chilli and hot dogs. They didn’t serve fries, burgers or salads.
The timing of the permit and the items served on the lake were designed to assist the businesses along Lakeshore Drive.
I was on the strip numerous times on Friday and Saturday. There were people in the local pubs on Friday night, more than one usually sees in mid-March and in the businesses open for breakfast Saturday morning.
I spoke with a team from Edmonton who moved their hotel room from Red Deer to Sylvan Lake to be closer to the action. I have heard that serving staff in establishments on Lakeshore Drive said they had a good weekend.
Businesses along Lakeshore Drive have pond hockey to thank for any increased custom they had on the weekend of March 12 to 14. And it is only going to improve.
It would be nice to see more of them get involved, Who knows where it will take them?