O’Leary’s putting on its Hockeyville face

Preparing for Festival weekend Sept. 23-24 

Published on September 11, 2017

O’Leary Kraft Hockeyville committee members, from left, Bill MacKendrick, Jo-anne Wallace and Della Sweet, along with Glen Sweet and O’Leary Recreation Director Jeff Ellsworth hold up Bud’s giant Hockey stick. Glen and Della Sweet, with help from a Stetson’s Electric boom truck spent much of Sunday afternoon dressing up the O’Leary Museum’s giant potato as a hockey player for the town’s Hockeyville celebrations.

©Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer

O'LEARY - It can’t get much more official than this: the Kraft Hockeyville logo is now frozen into center ice at the O’Leary Community Sports Centre, and Bud, the giant potato at the Canadian Potato Museum, is all decked out as a hockey player. 

It’s all part of the big build up-to O’Leary’s Kraft Hockeyville Winning Weekend celebration September 23 to 25. 

The final piece of O’Leary’s prize for winning the national Kraft Hockeyville 2017 competition is an NHL pre-season exhibition game in Summerside on September 25, but the celebration leading up to that is taking place in O’Leary, and the O’Leary Kraft Hockeyville committee is in charge of ticket distribution for the game and the game-day practices. 

A lottery to decide who wins tickets to the game happens today (Tuesday) at the O’Leary Community Sports Centre. 

More than 1,600 people registered for a ticket lottery, and more than 800 names will be drawn. Two tickets will be awarded for each name drawn. “It’s over a 50 per cent chance their name is going to get drawn, for each draw,” committee member Jo-anne Wallace said. 

And, those who don’t win a ticket to the game stand a better than average shot at winning a ticket to the game-day practices. 

All O’Leary Minor Hockey players and O’Leary figure skaters, as well as one team from every Minor hockey association in the province will get to attend the game, and students from all 11 schools in West Prince will have the opportunity to attend a game-day practice. 

The hype is being ratcheted up all over town in preparation for the Winning Weekend celebration. O’Leary Recreation director, Jeff Ellsworth is reaching out to O’Leary businesses encouraging them to show their Hockeyville pride. “Now is the time to get dressed up,” he said, urging businesses to put up posters and banners and to bring out their hockey jerseys. Residents are also being encouraged to put displays in their yards and windows. Hockeyville menu items and specials are also being encouraged. 

Committee member Della Sweet said the excitement she’s witnessing form people who are getting to go to the game or practice has made all the work and preparations worthwhile. Each of the five committee members estimates they’ve logged more than 400 hours in planning since O’Leary was declared the national winner in April. 

“From the time you get home until you go to bed,” Wallace added. 

“It’s the nature of it; it’s very consuming. It’s a big event,” she pointed out.