By Will Colford, SnowSeekers Inc.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling describes Red Deer Alberta as a community with “a strong tradition of coming together for one big party.” Looking across the crowd, I’m reminded of the endless wheat and canola fields surrounding Red Deer. After attending several relay legs, it’s clear the mayor knows his town, as this is the biggest torch event I’ve seen.
A hay-bail ball-hockey rink is packed with future Olympians. Not one, but two stages feature Alberta entertainment. Families line up for hot maple syrup cured on beds of fresh snow. A local break dance troop is throwing down. And overlooking everything is a massive JumboTron with a live feed of the approaching torch, making its way through the city.
Interwoven in the “one big party,” former Olympians, Deidra Dionne and Jamie Salé enjoy the company from their hometown.
Local Jordan White thinks the turn out is because the ‘community’ of Red Deer encompasses so much more than just the city itself.
“All the surrounding rural communities are apart of the central Alberta metropolis. They’re what gives Red Deer its flair.”
As award-winning alternative country musician, Corb Lund takes to the stage for a second time, his talk of a bigger turnout in Red Deer than Edmonton is met with little surprise. But as the mayor said himself, “I’m not surprised it’s a barn burner. We get so many great events through here the city and the community just knows to expect a great time.”