WINNIPEG - When a Manitoba festival has "ice" in its name and features a bunch of people wearing helmets, it's impossible for a hockey mascot like myself to stay away. Though they were celebrating Iceland and vikings, and not hockey, I trekked north to Gimli as I have done for the last several years for the Icelandic Festival to join in the festivities on Aug. 5. As always, I jumped in on the parade, handed out giveaways and met tons of Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose fans. You wouldn't believe what big hockey fans all those Vikings are! And after seeing the Viking battles, I'd face Dustin Byfuglien on the ice instead of them any day!
Later in the month, I was off to a Winnipeg landmark where I always feel at home - the Assiniboine Park Zoo. I've been able to make a bunch of friends with the animals there over the years, but I always like visiting Aurora the polar bear the best! Though my trips there are usually for the annual Manitoba Moose scavenger hunt, this time I was there for the Assiniboine Park Zoo Wildest Dreams event on Aug. 15. The event is designed to give children and families facing health or socio-economic challenges a once-in-a-lifetime zoo experience. I know how good it feels to get invited to the zoo with the hockey team, so for the zoo to invite people who might not usually have the chance to go must have been awesome for those families! The zoo partners with a bunch of great not-for-profit organizations in the city to bring the kids and families out, and one of those organizations was the True North Youth Foundation. Needless to say, I saw quite a few familiar faces, and got a lot of very enthusiastic high-fives!
I got to test out my golf swing once again at the Travis Price Golf Tournament on Aug. 19. It's great to spend a day out on the course, meeting lots of fans, and seeing a bunch of great tee shots (and some not so great). But even better is seeing all of the support for the tournament, which raises funds for the True North Youth Foundation. Winnipeggers sure are generous!
But enough talk about golf! It's September which can only mean one thing: hockey is almost back and it's time to get back in top cheering form! My call to duty starts out at Fan Fest at the Bell MTS Iceplex on Sept. 14 and then I hit the road with the Moose to North Dakota to cheer them on in their pre-season games in Grand Forks on Sept. 27 and 28 against the Iowa Wild. After that, it's time to get the real show on the road with the regular season. The Jets open their home schedule on Oct. 10, and the Moose play their home opener the next day on Oct. 11.
Thanks for following along on my summer adventures again, and I can't wait to see all you friendly Manitobans at Bell MTS Place this season!