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The Calgary Flames in Chicago

Friday, May 1, 2009


The Canadian Club of Chicago planned a Calgary Flames Pep Rally during the Calgary Flames / Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Playoff Series.  With nary a day’s notice, the Canadian Club sent out hundreds of e-mail invitations and contacted media.  We fielded calls from the Chicago Tribune and local TV news outlets.  This became a story on three different radio stations in Calgary and a front-page headline story in the Calgary Herald.

The thought was that we would march around around the United Center seven times at dawn and blow horns at it, kind of like the biblical story of Joshua marching around Jericho for seven days.  Then we’d go have breakfast at the Billy Goat.  Leading the charge was going to be my trusty little red and white Mini Clubman Estate, proudly flying a Calgary Flames flag from its window.  At daybreak, navigating undauntedly through the streets of Chicago’s west side, it arrived at the United Center for its appointed rounds.  On the fifth lap, a taxi cab was seen pulling up on Wood Street, east of the UC, and dropped off a well dressed fellow, it was before 6AM. Perhaps my trusty little red Mini with a Calgary Flames flag may have been a bit noticeable in that neighbourhood, that time of morning, in front of all the security surveillance cameras, but this fellow waved me down and introduced himself as Ken King, President and CEO of the Calgary Flames.

Another fan appeared from Calgary in a similarly flagged vehicle, as did a vehicle with Consular plates and two Consular staff.

While Mr. King noted that the smaller the turnout, the better the news story this would be, there were four television news helicopters flying overhead, fighting for the same airspace over the United Center to get an anticipated crowd shot.  We waved.

In order to get access to the Canadian Club’s e-mail list, I had to cut a deal with their Marketing Committee, who is a Trade Attache for the delegation du Quebec in Chicago.  I could hear him loudly grinning over the phone as he commented how great my Mini would look flying a Canadiens flag at a Montreal / Chicago rally.  Paybacks can be nasty in this town.


Posted in Community Organization, Pop Culture, Sports.