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Fans have a blast during pre-game festivities

by Dave Lozo
CALGARY -- Thousands of fans poured into Spectator Plaza at McMahon Stadium on Sunday to take part in fun games, good music and delicious food in preparation for the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Flames and Montreal Canadiens.

The Northeast parking lot had a festival atmosphere as mostly Flames fans -- and even a few Canadiens fans -- partied it up before going inside for the 4 p.m. MT game.

The cover band This Side Up provided the music, playing the hits of Guns N' Roses, Green Day and other popular rock bands. Fans stood in lines that were about 25-50 people long in the chilly temperatures to test their hockey skills at various booth. There was also air hockey battles, free coffee from Tim Hortons, and a booth where fans could shoot into a dryer the same way Sidney Crosby did as a child.

Darcy Peters, a Calgary resident who was wearing enough Saskatchewan Roughriders gear to make Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr blush, clipped 2-of-4 targets at the XM shootout accuracy booth.

"It's awesome. There's so many people out here even though how cold it is," Peters said.

Did Peters catch any flak for wearing his bright-green Roughriders gear so close to the home of the Calgary Stampeders?

"I know it's dangerous," Peters said. "I've only been threatened a couple of times. But I had a couple of high-fives."

Canadiens fans were probably outnumbered by about 30-to-1 at Spectator Plaza, but the ones who were there didn't lack for any enthusiasm. Mo Safadi, a Calgary native, wore his throwback Rocket Richard jersey and proudly waved a giant Habs flag as he walked around.

"I'm here all in good fun, here to support my time," Safadi said.

Safadi was with his brother, Sid, who went the other way and grew up a Flames fan.

"Maybe I'll rub it in to my brother. The only person I'll scrap is him later on in the confines of the backyard," Mo said with a laugh.

How did it happen where two boys growing up in the same house ended up liking completely different teams?

"I'm the smart one," Sid quipped.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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