It was almost a grandmother’s worst Whiteout nightmare.
Alice Bourgouin was standing with her crestfallen grandchildren Brady, 12, and nine-year-old Hannah, explaining to a reporter she didn’t realize the Whiteout street party now needed a ticket snagged in advance to get in.
"I came to the game the other night and we didn’t need tickets," a shocked Bourgouin said Saturday seconds after hockey fans began enter the cordoned off area near Bell MTS Place.
"I wasn’t aware I needed passes. It’s just too bad."
Her grandson Brady said while he wanted to go to the Whiteout, "All I hope is that the Jets win."
That’s when a Winnipeg police officer stepped in.
The unnamed officer asked if this was the family with no tickets and when the grandmother said yes, he said follow him.
A minute later and the three were on the other side of the fence.
"I love you guys," the grandmother told the officers, both children all smiles, before the three were swallowed up in a crowd of white.
The officer said the gates have been given a number of tickets so families won’t be turned away.
The vast majority of people who came to the gate had tickets, and the vast majority said they didn’t like having to get tickets.
"I don’t like it," said Gerald Comeault. "Maybe it is a good plan but not eight tickets per person — just two per person would be good."
His wife, Gabriella, said they didn’t have tickets, but were given a pair when they came downtown.
"We came down hoping," she said.
"I tried online but it went so fast. I tried but they were gone. But I did get tickets for Monday."
Nearby, checking a message on his cellphone and holding onto his Whiteout ticket, Chad Penner also wasn’t happy with the new ticketing system.
"I can understand the rationale, but it is a bit of a buzzkill," he said.
"I don’t understand why Economic Winnipeg wouldn’t want to continue with people coming downtown and having the overflow go to restaurants and bars."
Street party organizers said last week they wanted a way of knowing how many people to plan for in advance to be able to provide services such as portable toilets and policing.
Since they sold out there have been reports of people trying to sell them on websites such as Kijiji.
The tickets, which can be obtained on Ticketmaster, are free and there is no service fee.
Monday’s tickets are already sold out. Assuming the Jets win at least one of the first four games in the playoff series, tickets for the Game 5 Whiteout party haven’t been made available yet.
Meanwhile, people at the Whiteout party came dressed in white Jets jerseys, T-shirts, dress shirt, ties and jackets — and at least one wore her wedding dress.
Clutching a sign that said ‘Marry me Hellebuyck,’ Sunnie Toews decided to break out her wedding dress one more time to see if she could win a goalie.
"This is my actual wedding dress," she said. "I thought I might as well get some extra use out of it."
That’s when a Star Wars storm trooper accompanying Princess Leia, oh excuse me, Princess Knight Slaya, walked by.
"We didn’t have any trouble getting in," storm trooper a.k.a. Jeremy Plett said just before striking a pose with Princess/Joanne Fershau.
"I’m not carrying any weapons," he added brandishing his blaster rifle.
Meanwhile, Dave Abbott and his 13-year-old son Luke and nine-year-old daughter Madeline were happy to be in enemy territory.
Abbott and his two children were just outside the arena wearing — gasp — jerseys bearing the logo of the Vegas Golden Knights. Madeline was even hiding her head under a knight’s helmet.
"I think we are going to be vastly outnumbered here tonight," Abbott said laughing. "We’re going to try and make our voices heard. Everybody has been great and friendly to us."
Abbott said his family doesn’t hail from Las Vegas, but Yankton, S.D., about an hour south of Sioux Falls.
"We have season tickets in Vegas — it’s about a two and a half hour flight," he said.
"We’ve been going to Vegas for years so we knew we would be lifelong fans… we started driving here and we got here at 2 a.m., last night. We will be back on the road tomorrow because they have school on Monday."
"I want to see our team win," said Luke, to which his sister chimed in "I’d like to see the Knights win."
The last word we’ll give to Dancing Gabe who was spotted heading to the Whiteout party entrance.
"I’m hoping for a Jets victory," he said putting his thumbs up.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 7:55 PM CDT: Adds photo of Alice Bourgouin and her grandchildren
8:48 PM: Adds slideslow
11:29 PM: Edited