Hordes of Stephen Colbert fans turned out in Oshawa Tuesday to fete the American comic and get a dose of Don Cherry.

About 3,000 people packed the General Motors Centre for Stephen Colbert Day, the result of a bet between Oshawa Mayor John Gray and Colbert over an OHL game.

'I want this to be the biggest raver in Oshawa since last year's peony festival.' —Stephen Colbert

When the local team, the Generals, lost, the forfeit was a day devoted to the satirical talk show host, known for his parodies of right-wing pundits.

Colbert did not attend, but guests were treated to an appearance by Cherry and watchedtheir mayoreat a cake decorated with a photo of Colbert.

Colbert said he hoped Stephen Colbert Day would become an annual event in the city, known for its GM plant.

"This is a city I have admired ever since I learned of its existence recently," Colbert said in a taped message from New York played on the arena's big screen.

"I want this to be the biggest raver in Oshawa since last year's peony festival," he said to roars of laughter.

Cherry calls Colbert a leftie pinko

Hockey icon Don Cherry, dressed in a red crushed-velvet jacket, provided the night's biggest star power. He took the occasion to honour former Boston Bruin Bobby Orr, who once played for the Oshawa Generals and whose birthday was on Tuesday.

Of Colbert, Cherry had this to say: "He's the guy who started all this and then didn't even have the guts to show up."

He later referred to Colbert as a "leftie pinko," adding that if the comedian was a hockey player, he'd wear a visor.


Stephen Colbert impersonators, from left, Clark Morawetz, Jacob Kanter, Maurice Collard, John Tate and Jason Colbert competed in Oshawa Tuesday night. ((Nathan Denette/Canadian Press))

Five finalists in the Stephen Colbert lookalike contest were on hand, with Maurice Collard of Saskatoon winning the contest.

For Gray, whocelebrated his birthday on Tuesday, the day was a culmination of months of back-and-forth between Colbert and Oshawa that has brought unprecedented publicity to a city that is all but invisible on the public stage.

"I feel very lucky to be born on Colbert Day," Gray told the crowd on Tuesday night. "Mr. Colbert, this is the way to lose a bet."

The seed for Stephen Colbert Day was planted when about two million Colbert fansvoted inan online contest to name the mascot of the Michigan OHL team Saginaw Spirit,Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle.

Colbert threw his support behind the squad and began trash-talking its OHL rivals, especially the Generals.

After a public volley of taunts and counter-taunts, Gray issued a challenge to Colbert on the eve of a showdown between the two teams —if the Generals won, Colbert would have to wear a Generals jersey for an entire show. If the Spirit won, Gray would declare Colbert'sbirthday Stephen Colbert Day in Oshawa. Colbert accepted the challenge but insisted that Stephen Colbert Day be held on the mayor's birthday.