With a free public skating event, a Cumberland Junior "A" Grads hockey game, plenty of coffee and hot chocolate, the Navan for Hockeyville celebration on Dec. 5 encouraged residents to share their stories and show why Navan deserves to be named Hockeyville.
This is the second time the Navan Memorial Centre arena is entering the competition. Last year, they placed third in Ontario and hope to win top spot in 2011, says co-committee chairman Barry Irvine.
The winner of the competition will receive $100,000 and the top four in Canada receive $25,000 each. Irvine says they would use the money to upgrade the facility, which is in need of a new heating system, sound system, and snack bar. A fire destroyed the canteen about a month ago.
"The event on Sunday was wonderful," Irvine says. "We had a really nice crowd for public skating and collected a lot of items for the food bank. We also got a lot of people to share their stories, which is the biggest challenge for us."
They had a computer centre set up in the arena, where people who are computer-shy could share their stories about the arena to volunteers, who then posted them online. The contest is based on the number of stories received about an arena.
Irvine says the Navan Memorial Centre is steeped in history. "Before, it was the only arena in the rural east end. Everyone would gather here, and when the arena needed repairs the community would rally together to raise the funds."
A mural hangs on the arena's wall, dedicated to Washington Capitals right wing Matt Bradley who once played with the Cumberland Grads, and several NHL coaches including Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Martin have played there.
Irvine says the Navan for Hockeyville campaign is a way for people to share old stories and help foster a sense of belonging in the community.
The winning arena also gets a substantial bonus prize: hosting an NHL pre-season game. Irvine says he'd love to see an Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens match-up, and sees it as another opportunity to raise funds for local families in need.
On Jan. 9 another Hockeyville event will be held at the arena, featuring another Cumberland Grads game, an alumni match up, a wine and cheese, a spaghetti dinner put on by the Lions club, and prizes for the oldest piece of memorabilia and oldest player who's competed at the arena.
Irvine reminds residents to go online and share their stories and photos – even if it's not about hockey. "If you've been at the arena for a dance, for demolition derby at the fair, or a horse show, we want to hear about it. We want to celebrate community."
Visit www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/hockeyville to share your story about the Navan Memorial Centre until the contest closes on Jan. 30, 2011.