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Tour Check-In: Wednesday

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

Leg One - Wednesday, June 28

 The group conducted radio interviews in the morning, and they likely quoted Wedding Crashers the entire time.

Here we go with day number three, and it’s Super Stop Wednesday!  As we mentioned yesterday we stayed at the Wendigo, which provided a nutritious breakfast as we jumped back on the bus and jettisoned off to beautiful Brainerd. 

As we pulled into town, many in the traveling party noticed how much Brainerd has grown in just a couple of years.  Paul Bunyan and Babe were in town, too. They must have had so much fun with us in Bemidji. 

Our first stop in Brainerd was for a radio interview at WJJY 106.7FM. From there it was off to one of the nicest Wells Fargo banks we’ve seen. The building was covered in oodles of green ivy that fit the area perfectly.  We met some employees and had an interview with the local paper, the Brainerd Dispatch. 

Today was a long and busy day so we kept rolling!  From Wells Fargo, it was to the Bonanza Steakhouse for lunch. This wasn’t just any lunch; we were invited to the Brainerd Sertoma Club meeting. The Club was very friendly and happy to have us.  The Wells Fargo Folks introduced us to the Club, but Kurtis "Bananaz" Foster got a laugh when he mentioned that he was #26 in the program but #1 on our hearts. What a kiss up!

The brave Brad Bombardir gave a speech that was not only funny and informative, but also inspiring.  "Story Dude" Tom Reid told a quick funny story, which also garnered laughs from everyone.  We loaded the bus…without Chouinard because he was in getting some dessert as usual (ice cream this time around). 

From the Sertoma Club meeting, it was off the Brainerd Civic Center. As we pulled up, a large crowd of folks who were waiting to talk to the traveling party and get some autpgraphs, greeted us.  We also had the pleasure of meeting Pittsburgh draft pick and Brainerd-native Carl Sneep.  That was a pleasure for him and us as the guys were able to give him few words of advice.   

Looking out the windows of the bus, we knew it was going to be a hot one!  Foster grabbed his hat but Bombardir had to borrow one from Radio Producer and Super Stop Host, Kevin Falness.  Knowing Bombardir, we told Falness he should just throw that hat away at the end of the event. Would you want to wear that again?

 The laughter kept coming during Wednesday’s Super Stop in Brainerd.
The Q & A portion of the Super Stop was fun, and the kids in the crowd really enjoyed it. Falness did a great job of getting questions from the crowd and putting the players on the spot! Soon the autographs started and there was a long line of fans, but everyone enjoyed meeting the crew. The softie pucks were a big hit with the fans, but we also found out that they are a pretty accurate throwing mechanism.  Falness had incredible aim with the softie puck as he was picking off members of the traveling party. 

With autographs complete the guys decided to take on some kids by playing a little 3 on 3 street hockey. Foster had an unbelievable move to score on goaltender Bombardir. The players and kids playing with them had tons of fun with a great experience to talk about with friends. Word from the entire traveling party was that the Super Stop was a success! Phew!

Our friends from Charter Communications invited us to their building for Root Beer Floats. Of course Chouinard was game, but so was the rest of the crew. There, we met the Mayors of both Brainerd, and Baxter. We knew when the Brainerd mayor came because rolled up in his truck with a telling wind deflector on the front stating, “The Mayor”. 

Back on the bus we were set for St. Paul. Our northern trek covered a lot ground and we met a lot of great people. We were thankful for the great weather we had everywhere and for Vince Vaughn. Our Vince Vaughn movie marathon on the bus helped keep us occupied on the road but also created funny stories for the group to laugh together and quote lines from each movie. 

All in all, the Leg One traveling party enjoyed their trip and look forward to capping the 2006 Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour with the Summer Bash in St. Paul! 

Thanks for listening,
Road Tour Leg one Traveling Party
(Marc Chouinard, Kurtis Foster, Brad Bombardir, Tom Reid, Emily Gausman & Maggie Kukar)

Leg Two - Wednesday, June 28

 A lucky youngster gets a hat from Josh Harding during a Wednesday skate.

Wednesday morning was upon us, and so was our last day on the road for the Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour. With mixed emotions, we awoke at 7:00 AM, and feasted on a continental breakfast provided by Fitger’s in Duluth. An hour later, we were on the road towards St. Cloud.

Detours, construction and unfamiliarness with the area unfortunately caused us to take a "scenic" route. So we were running a little late when we arrived in St. Cloud. (Our sincerest apologies to the hundreds of fans that eagerly awaited our arrival - thanks for sticking it out for us!) We laced them up and experienced one of the best times of our tour. The kids excitement was contagious, and we couldn’t have asked for a better group. Skating backwards while being chased by 50 kids may have been intimidating for an ordinary person, but Josh and Derek encouraged the interaction with blue line races and hockey banter. After working up a sweat, the boys headed up to the autograph tables where they spent time signing jerseys, pucks and photos.

The crew worked up an appetite. Crunched for time, we chose to get carry-out from a local fast food establishment in St. Cloud. After a long debate about the triple stacked vs. the quadruple stacked burger, both Mike Greenlay and Derek Boogaard opted for the triple stack. Moments later,  the burgers vanished. Both guys dreamt about the fourth patty they had declined.

Our last stop - Hutchinson, Minnesota - was moments away and the realization of our time together soon ending began to set in. But duty called and kids were lined up at the Hutchinson stop. Armed with their favorite Wild items, the fans awaited our arrival. An hour of autographs led to 30 minutes of competition between Josh and Derek, and a number of their little fans in a series of hockey challenges. This time, we walked away without any injuries to our players and Josh’s shoe continued to function, held together by the famous paperclip from Duluth.

After three days together on the Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour, our team of six was ready for bed. A good night’s rest would end our Wednesday.

Looking forward to meeting all our Twin Cities fan at the Wells Fargo Wild Summer Bash on Thursday night!

Leg Two

Leg Three - Wednesday, June 28

 Leg Three enjoyed huge crowds throughout the Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour.

You would think that after enduring Leg Three’s hectic travel schedule, the Wild celebrities would wake up road weary and ready for the trek home. Instead, they were fired up to visit two more communities and also a little sad that our trip was about to come to an end.

“Actually, I would like to do this for another week,” Stephane Veilleux said this morning.

That’s not to say the boys weren’t a little road weary. Star Limo coaches offer pretty comfortable sleeping, as Brent Burns has found out between virtually every stop. Even his good friend Stephane was amazed at his sleeping ability.

So off we went to visit Albert Lea. Our excitement to visit this community was compounded when we approached the Wells Fargo and saw a line of people wrapped around the building waiting for us. Albert Lea knows their hockey. Burns, Veilleux, Mason and Ramsey talked a lot about the sport while they signed autographs today – a testament to the love affair this southern Minnesota town has with the sport.

After the signing, it was off to Mankato, the last of 15 cities this tour visited in three days. Another line awaited, this one outside All Season’s Arena. Folks there were equally anxious and we stayed until everyone got a chance to rub elbows with our crew. Much like our other stops, we met a lot of great people in Mankato, home of the Mavericks.

With that, we boarded the bus for one last time to head back to Saint Paul. We certainly owe a debt of thanks to all these great communities we visited this week. So wonderful were the people we met and the sights we saw, that it was with mixed emotions that we headed home. Southern Minnesota was very good to us, and we’re each humbled by how many people came out to welcome us to each of these places.

We’re excited to meet even more fans tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Wild Summer Bash at Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul. There, all three legs will come together and share stories about the tour, as well as meet plenty of Wild fans. If we haven’t seen you yet, hopefully we’ll see you there.

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