The horse and the hotel lobby: How a Calgary committee keeps an old Grey Cup tradition alive

“This is a wonderful horse– really comfy entering into a hotel.”

Tuffy Nuff, guided by members of the Calgary Grey Cup Committee, arrives at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Thursday evening in Regina. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
Tuffy Nuff, assisted by members of the Calgary Grey Cup Committee, comes to the DoubleTree by Hilton on Thursday night in Regina. TROY FLEECE/ Regina Leader-Post Photo by TROY FLEECE/ Regina Leader-Post

On Thursday night in the lobby of a Regina hotel, there was a horse, naturally.

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Di Wensel was on the saddle, and 17- year-old mare Tuffy Nuff was beneath, chewing apples provided by hotel personnel throughout an informal check-in.

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” Enjoy your stay,” the clerk stated.

Tuffy Nuff– a Percheron/Thoroughbred cross, who had actually currently participated in a VIP occasion in a hotel ballroom near the lobby– begun to welcoming a crowd of collected well-wishers at the DoubleTree By Hilton.

The horse-in-the-hotel is an enduring Grey Cup custom, going back to 1948, when– as legend informs us– lively Calgary Stampeders fans rode a horse into the lobby of the high-falutin’ Royal York in Toronto.

The Calgary Grey Cup Committee has actually ensured, since, that a horse winds up in the lobby of a host-city hotel.

These days, naturally, they exercise logistical information ahead of time– from authorizations, to the short-lived carpet taped down all over the horse will stroll, simply in case of … mishaps.

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” There’s all type of magic that works behind the scenes,” committee member Sandy Dubyk states with a laugh. “Just like Santa provides throughout the world in one night, the Calgary Grey Cup Committee weaves some magic in various methods.”

” This is a great horse, and extremely comfy entering into a hotel,” stated Wensel, who is the Calgary committee chair. “Obviously, it’s a bit various than riding on an open variety, however we’re truly delighted that we can do this every year and keep that custom going.”

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That custom is surrounding 75 years, disrupted just by the pandemic. It was rather a celebration in 1948, as Stampeders fans– who had actually hopped a 14- automobile train in Calgary– assembled on Toronto and imparted strong western flavour. At video game’s end they took apart the goalposts and dragged them into the Royal York lobby, and eventually, a resourceful fan started cutting those posts into pieces and offering them to revellers.

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” The football video game for the Grey Cup was objected to formally in the Stadium and was objected to unofficially in the hotel lobby,” the Globe and Mail’s Jim Coleman composed after Calgary beat the Ottawa Rough Riders 12 -7.

” At 5: 01 p.m. the goalposts were borne triumphantly through the front doors and were put up versus the railings of the mezzanine.

” At 5: 02 p.m. 2 squads of bellboys circumspectly eliminated the potted palms, flower vases and anything that weighed less than 3,000 pounds.

” The gaudily caparisoned Calgary fans were lively and loud however well-behaved and courteously decreased to ride their horses into the elevators.”

From that celebration sprang the committee, which presently has more than 70 members. They’ll stage totally free pancake breakfasts Friday and Saturday at Confederation Park for all comers, total with live home entertainment. They’ll make 8,000 pancakes; cook 4,000 sausages.

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Nobody requires to bring a horse into a hotel throughout Grey Cup week, naturally, however members of the Calgary committee will inform you that custom matters– that it’s well worth keeping a sense of fond memories, no matter how charming, and keeping alive an old, shared tradition.

” The fans (in 1948) believed ‘would not it be enjoyable, to take a few of Calgary throughout the nation?'” Dubyk states. “That’s the pursuit. It does not matter if the Stampeders remain in it, or not. For us, we take the program on the roadway. This is something we provide for the fans of the CFL, which’s our spirit. It’s the enthusiasm we need to keep the custom alive.

” Nostalgia and tradition,” he includes, “is something that’s truly essential.”

So Tuffy Nuff did the ballroom meet-and-greet, checked out the hotel, consulted with more well-wishers, then rode out into the chill Regina night as Wensel ducked her head to get under the door.

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She was asked if there’s strategies to drag the goal-posts into the lobby after the video game, similar to in 1948, however that’s an action too far. Some things are best left as one-time occasions.

” We aren’t doing that this year, no,” she stated with a smile.

kemitchell@postmedia.com

twitter.com/kmitchsp


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