There was a sprinkling of snow on the ground in Dundas on Saturday evening and there were a few who feared the weather could potentially damper the spirits of those attending Sunday’s Stanley Cup Jamboree. Mother Nature, however, had other plans for the community, and thousands came out to participate in the sun-filled events.
With the beautiful Niagara escarpment in the background, the Dundas Driving Park played host to former NHL players, NHL skills games, Kraft food stations and, of course, the guest of honor -- the Stanley Cup.
Hamilton city councilor Russ Powers, who represents Dundas, was more than thrilled.
"We had gorgeous day and a wonderful turnout and even a better day than expected," Powers said. "I knew that we would have great turnout, but it’s just beyond my expectations."
The councilman even had a tear in his eye thinking of what his community had accomplished.
"I'm not surprised," he explained. "Something like this, the community really comes together."
He would have been proud of one Dundas resident in particular, 9-year-old Kevin Rorie. Rorie was one many that stood in the long line to get the autographs of former NHL players Dave Andreychuk
, Brad Marsh
, Danny Gare
and Shawn McEachern
. But the autographs he got signed on his Kraft Hockeyville hat weren't for him.
"Well my mom, she knows this person at her work and his son got attacked by a dog," Rorie explained. "So I’m going to give the hat to him."
Gare, an ex-Sabre, was astounded by the event.
"The jamboree was amazing. I couldn't believe the amount of people there," said the 17-year NHL veteran. "The line was continuous for over two hours while we were signing, but they all seemed to have fun. They were all into it, and they just couldn't thank us enough for coming and also the fact that Dave Andreychuk
is from the area. He was obviously a big hit."
Andreychuk, who hails from nearby Hamilton, got some of the biggest cheers. One of his biggest fans in attendance was his father, Julian.
"You want everything for your family and for your kids, and Dave has certainly proven that for us," the senior Andreychuk said. "He's exceeded more than we ever expected and to see this happening for him sure feels good."
Watching his son sign autographs in the Dundas Driving Park also brought back some fond memories of the annual Andreychuk family picnic that used to be held in the very same location.
"When you see him in the wading pool, when he was five, six years old and now to see this," Andreychuk said. "It's not like winning the Stanley Cup, but sure makes you proud."
Julian Andreychuk celebrated a Stanley Cup win with his son when Andreychuk won it as the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning
, and yet when the Cup entered the park he too took his camera out along with the thousands of Dundas residents.
Seeing the Stanley Cup was the highlight for many fans. Kevin Baldwin, who was sporting a Bob Gainey Canadiens jersey, stood in the line with his two sons for his chance to pose with the famous trophy.
"The jamboree was amazing. I couldn't believe the amount of people there. The line was continuous for over two hours while we were signing, but they all seemed to have fun. They were all into it, and they just couldn't thank us enough for coming and also the fact that Dave Andreychuk is from the area. He was obviously a big hit."
-- Danny Gare
"We're everywhere," Baldwin said of his Habs fandom. "My kids both play hockey in Dundas. My one son, he's actually a huge hockey fan, my other guy, he can't wait to get out of here and go see his buddies. But I said to him, you know what, you have to suck it up, take one picture with the Cup with me and then you can go."
And so all three of them waited and it was well worth it for Baldwin, who noted his favorite thing about the Stanley Cup is the 24 times his Canadiens have had their names inscribed on it.
"I got one taken in Guelph in 2000, but that was just me, so it was cool to get one with my two kids with the Cup," he said.
Right next to the Cup display were several presentations being made to the community of Dundas. The 2009 Kraft Hockeyville Champion bid organizers, Bob Park and Carole Fielding, came all the way from Terrace, British Columbia, to partake in the festivities and exchange gifts with Powers. Kraft graciously donated $5,000 to the Dundas Salvation Army food bank, while the NHL Foundation decided to help "The Gotta Be Dundas Legacy Project" to further improve the J.L. Grightmire Arena with a $15,000 check.
In the end, the stacks of signed Kraft Hockeyville cards ran out and a beautiful day in Dundas had to come to an end. It was even to the dismay of Gare, who along with his three buddies were good sports for those deserving members of the community who waited to greet them.
"When you look at what this little community has done in order to get Kraft Hockeyville and in the way they represented themselves and really pushed the envelope to get it," Gare said.
Follow Magalie Lafrenière on Twitter at: @NHLmagalie