A decade ago the 49th Parallel Grocery’s Pat Battie, sporting a pair of dark rimmed Hanson Brothers glasses, walked into city hall and pitched council the idea of Ladysmith establishing a Guinness World Record for the largest single day street hockey tournament – the rest became history.
Now the old organizing gang is back together again on what is an anniversary year for not only Canada, but also the local grocer which first opened its doors back in 1977.
“Forty years is huge in the grocery retail industry especially for independent stores so it’s a big year for us,” Battie, promotions manager for 49th Parallel told the Chronicle.
The advent of social media since the original Guinness record could mean this year’s event set for Sunday, June 4 surpasses the 2010 participants from last time – entries were symbolically capped because of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games which had recently been announced.
“Last time around there was pretty amazing results off the bat so we’re not sure what’s going to hit us this year as far as participation goes,” Battie said, recalling how the morning after his Hanson Brothers appearance at city hall news spread quickly to local media.
“The best thing about ten years ago was there were no issues that came up. It was a beautiful day, everybody had a lot of fun and the whole day went really smoothly.”
Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On event currently holds the record for the largest street hockey tournament with 35,970 players but it was achieved over a six month period.
Organizers in Ladysmith have already been in contact with the UK-based Guinness World Records and confirmed their local hockey tournament could once again set the benchmark for the largest single day event of its kind.
“It’s time, it’s our record to set and we want the world to witness it,” Battie said.
The main drag will be closed from Symonds Street to White Street with four team category options ranging from Just for Fun to NHL Wannabes. The tournament will follow a single game knockout format and teams will start four forwards and a goalie.
One of the original organizers Kelly Greville, formerly with PepsiCo and now Paradise Islands Foods, has a 20-year working relationship with 49th Parallel and said there isn’t a better place to hold the one-day event.
“Just the optics of the town and the fact that they already know how to do this because of Light Up,” she said. “Light Up lends a huge piece to this puzzle. To make it a legit street hockey tournament Ladysmith just fits the bill.”
Also new for this year’s event will be a skills competition as well as plenty of food and music. There’s also talk of a hopefully adding a beer garden where players can kick back and enjoy a cold brew.
But the record attempt, which will shut down 1st Avenue, goes far beyond simply the action out on the pavement.
The event is a fundraiser for Wounded Warriors and for local sports programs.
“Yes it’s a hockey tournament and hopefully a Guinness record but it’s also really a fundraiser, being ten years ago we raised $10,000 for youth sports,” Battie said.
There will be memorabilia from the NHL, AHL, BCJHL, VIJHL, plus unique and fascinating pieces of hockey history as Aggie Hall is transformed into Ladysmith’s own Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sharing the spotlight will be the very special and moving collection of Dudley “Red” Garrett, the first NHL player killed in action in the Second World War.
The memorabilia, valued at $35,000, is being donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and will be flanked by an honour guard that includes RCMP, local firefighters, PTSD therapy dogs and their handlers, veterans as well as cadets.
Garrett was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942 and traded to the New York Rangers for which he played only 23 games before being called up. He was killed was serving on the HMCS Shawinigan off the coast of Newfoundland in the Battle of the St. Lawrence.
For the last 70 years the American Hockey League has handed out the Dudley ‘Red’ Garrett Memorial Award to the best rookie in each season.
King Richard Brodeur will have his own exhibit and be on hand to sign autographs, talk about Game 7’s and his passion as a newfound passion as world famous painter. As well Richard will be adjudicator for the Guinness folks in London.
To sign up your team, visit LadysmithStreetHockey.com to register.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Pat Battie at 49th firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelly Greville at email@example.com.