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Almonte gets its own Jurassic Park spin-off as Raptors fever hits

A Jurassic Park spin-off is popping up in Almonte, Ont., one of 36 cities and towns outside of Toronto approved to host official public viewing parties.

Town best known as birthplace of James Naismith, credited with inventing basketball

Viewings parties such as this one in Toronto's Scotiabank Arena are coming to Almonte, Ont., as the Raptors continue in the NBA Finals. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

A Jurassic Park spin-off is popping up in Almonte, Ont., a town with deep connections to the origins of basketball. 

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the corporation that owns the Raptors, says 36 cities and towns outside of Toronto have been approved to host the parties. The list is long and varied and includes both big urban centres and rural communities.

Almonte, located in Mississippi Mills, Ont., just 30 kilometres west of Ottawa, will be hosting its first ever Jurassic Park-style, live screening of the Raptors game Sunday outside the Old Town Hall.

The original Jurassic Park is an outdoor square located at the entrance to Scotiabank Arena with enough room for about 5,000 people. It's becoming more crowded as Raptors fever hits an all-time high due to the NBA Finals.

Birthplace of basketball founder 

The town of about 5,000 people plays an important role in basketball history. It's the birthplace of James Naismith, the man credited with inventing the game of basketball in 1891.  

A bronze statue of Naismith, complete with basketball and peach basket, adorns the downtown of Almonte.

Christa Lowry, mayor of Mississippi Mills, Ont., said it was important to host a free viewing party given the community's deep connection to the game in Canada.

"We're a long-time basketball town and we wanted to take the opportunity to share in basketball's Canadian roots," she said. 

"I don't think it matters what part of the country you're in. We're all wrapped up in it and that's a big part of the fun."

Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors will be shown on a 16-foot screen at 8 p.m. Sunday at Old Town Hall in Almonte.

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