Members of Calgary's Grey Cup committee started leaving for Toronto today to take part in festivities surrounding the CFL's championship game this weekend.
Ald. Ray Jones, a longtime council representative on the Calgary committee, says he is looking forward to seeing rowdy Calgarians attempt to parade a horse through the lobby of the Royal York Hotel on Thursday morning — just like they did in 1948.
"We've already got a room booked for the horse, so it should be pretty exciting," he said. "It's tough to get, you know we can't bring our own horse from here. We have to get them down there so we hope we don't get one that's spooky."
The year 1948 is often remembered fondly by Calgary football fans as being the city's first Grey Cup win and a year that saw local fans bring pageantry to the championship festivities in Toronto.
"Back in 1948, the Grey Cup was just another football game until a bunch of Calgarians showed up down there, brought their horses, brought the pancakes, put on a great show and that's the Grey Cup tradition, that's where it started," said Bruce Eggen of the Calgary Grey Cup Committee.
"The Grey Cup festival itself started in 1948 with Calgary going down there, we're just upholding that tradition. Here we are again, doing the same thing. We'll be doing our pancake breakfasts, VIP reception, school visit where we put on a show for the kids, we've got our horse, we've got our mascots, we've got the band, we've got everybody. We're ready for this one."
Jones says the Grey Cup events tend to get overlooked in Toronto, but he's hoping that with the hometown team in the big game this year Torontonians will get involved in some of the hoopla leading up to Sunday.
Up to 5,000 expected at pancake breakfasts
The Calgary Grey Cup Committee's preparations are already in full swing for the 100th Grey Cup.
The group, which is made up of about 100 volunteers from Calgary, has travelled to every host Grey Cup city to put on parties, pancake breakfasts and other events for the last six decades.
Committee chair Fletcher Armstrong flew out of Calgary this morning.
"Now it just makes it so much better that the Stampeders are in the final and playing in Toronto like they did in 1948 when the party first started," he said.
"We'll still bring to the table two breakfasts — 2,500 people per breakfast — passion for the game, passion for the Stampeders [and] passion for the CFL all around."
Stamps season ticketholder Don Strangward is also getting ready to meet a group of friends from across Canada in Toronto for the last, and most important game of the year.
"10 tickets, 11th row midfield — we're gonna light 'er up," he said as he walked out of the Stamps store at McMahon Stadium with a bag of Stampeders gear.
"A couple of the other fellas didn't have enough Stamps stuff so I'm loading here up here."
Eggen said it was unbelievable that the Stamps beat Saskatchewan and then took down B.C. to make it into the game.
"What's interesting is that almost 20 years to the day we're playing Toronto again, we played 'em in 1971, in 1991, and here we are 21 years later doing the same thing," he said.
"So it's our turn to win again."