Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/5/2011 (2020 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The party to celebrate the return of the NHL to Winnipeg shifted to Portage and Main after police shut down festivities at The Forks just before 10 p.m.
About 1,000 people converged on the corner after being shooed away from The Forks — the site of the official party — by police.
After hours of cheers, beers and crowd-surfing, police started to shut down the party at The Forks just before 10 p.m.
Minutes later, police closed Portage and Main for the second time Tuesday, as partiers streaming out of The Forks took the revelry back to that intersection for another round.
The Forks would down its official NHL party around 6 p.m., but about 1,000 people were still in the area after dark.
Crowds had clustered under the canopy, cracking beers and offering up deafening chants of "Go Jets go" and other, less family-friendly cheers.
Police Staff Sgt. Rick Sharma sent out a notice at 9:45 p.m. asking partiers to stay away.
"Currently the conditions at the Forks Market have grown to be unsafe for public attendance and police are asking all persons to stop attending to the Forks Market," he wrote.
"Police are in the process of removing all unruly persons from the Forks Market and closing down the event for tonight."
Long before the party turned rowdy, fan Cassidy Dankochik, who took the day off from his job, enjoyed the festivities.
"It’s the Jets, man. Nothing bigger than the Jets," he said. "The Jets come back and Vancouver wins the Cup all in one year — and we can hate each other next year!"
And through the crowds and cheers, the fervent games of shinny and flagrantly enjoyed beers, one question hung in the damp air: when exactly did everyone in Winnipeg acquire a Jets jersey?
Because they all had them, from teens too young to remember a single Jets game, to a steely-haired man wearing a holey vintage jersey and flipping pucks at Portage and Main.
Also at The Forks, a bevy of local politicians came bedecked in Jets gear: Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge was spotted in a personalized jersey, while Tory MLA Hugh McFadyen — who famously made bringing back the Jets a centrepiece of his 2007 campaign — celebrated his birthday by donning his Jets schwag for the festivities.
Meanwhile, Mayor Sam Katz led Coun. Scott Fielding and former Jet, Coun. Thomas Steen, in a city-council conga line that snaked around The Forks’ jam-packed centre canopy. "When are the Winnipeg Jets coming back? Today!" Katz yelled before launching the dance.
Katz wasn’t the only reveller at The Forks who came ready to shake his moneymaker.
In fact, the most famously mobile Jets fan of all was one of the first at the scene. "I’m ready to dance," shouted Dancin’ Gabe Langlois. "It’s going to be the greatest day in Winnipeg sports history."
That was a sentiment shared by thousands — including a few who had been a part of sports history themselves. Before DJ Co-op and DJ Hunnicutt started spinning big beats, a passel of former NHL players — including Steen, Billy Lesuk and Russ Romaniuk — took to The Forks’ small stage to cheer the news.
"I think it’s a great day for the city," said Ab McDonald, the first captain the Jets ever had. "It was tough (to lose them) — but it is sweet now. A lot of people said it wouldn’t happen — and not in my lifetime — but I’d say we’ll get it back with a new arena."
During the opening hours of the party, it did bear a family-friendly vibe: in fact, a whole Grade 6 class from Tache School poured into The Forks, screaming in delight when the announcement broke. "We were supposed to have an outdoor activity day and it was cancelled," teacher Lynne Comault said.
"We figured we were close by The Forks so we'd just start walking. The students didn't know where we were going. They have gone from an outdoor activity to a history lesson."