Winnipeg Jets street party organizers are wondering how big the crowds will get if the Jets continue to do well in their playoff run. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Organizers wonder how big crowds will get for Winnipeg Jets street party

WINNIPEG — At first, it was just a few thousand people braving the cold to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets in a street party.

Then the numbers grew. And, with each game, the crowd got bigger.

Organizers say that by Game 5 of the first round of the NHL playoffs — which the Jets won against the Minnesota Wild — almost 20,000 people had gathered in the street outside Bell MTS Place to cheer, watch the game on big screens and be entertained by DJs.

Playoff fever has fully erupted in a city that had been starved of an NHL playoff victory for two decades.

“The patience as a fan base … has created this enormous sense of pent-up excitement to explode and let it all out,” says Darren Ford, who led a grassroots campaign to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg after the first Jets franchise left for Phoenix in 1996.

The new version of the Jets came to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. They made the playoffs in 2015 but were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

This time, the team shows a lot more promise and fans have come out in droves, dressing all in white for a ritual known as The Whiteout.

For one couple, getting married didn’t keep them from joining in. Eddie Bartlett and Rebecca Hiscock joined the frenzy for Game 5 of the series against Minnesota. They wanted to take wedding pictures at the street party. They talked their wedding photographer into it.

The bride’s white gown was a natural fit.

“We said, ‘OK … what a chance we have to get a perfect picture,’” Bartlett said.

“We just went there to get one picture and all of a sudden, an hour later, we were still there.”

Fans surrounded the couple and took pictures which were quickly posted to social media sites.

“Everyone was so excited to see us and … no one believed that it was our actual wedding day,” said Hiscock.

All the excitement has organizers wondering how big the crowds will get if the Jets continue to do well in their playoff run, especially now that warmer weather has arrived. The second round against the Nashville Predators begins Friday.

More street sections have had to be blocked off, more big screens have been put up. Police have said there have been virtually no problems so far, aside from a small number of people arrested for public intoxication.

Organizers, who have also set up a family-friendly, no-alcohol zone for each street party, say they are prepared to expand further to accommodate growing crowds.

“We’ll continue to tweak that every time we have a game,” said Dayna Spiring, president of Economic Development Winnipeg.

“We’re going to continue to expand as we need to and we’ll see what the demand is.”

For Ford, the sellout crowd inside the arena and the large crowd outside are proof that the city, a small population base by NHL standards, is a big market when it comes to the national game.

“This is our sport.”

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Street Tales: Life is filled with unlearned lessons

There are days that I almost believe evolutionists in that we are… Continue reading

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month