After a marathon day of hockey and a weekend blitz of voting, Woolwich residents are waiting to see if their efforts will be rewarded with a spot in Hockeyville’s top five communities.
Woolwich could know as soon as Sunday or as late as Feb. 21 whether it made the top five. The first finalist will be announced during the NHL all-star game Jan. 25, and another finalist will be announced on consecutive Saturdays after that.
“I think it’s already been decided but I have no idea whether we did it or we didn’t,” said Graham Snyder, who’s spearheading the Hockeyville entry. “I’ll just keep on with the positive thinking.”
Snyder was happy with the turnout for last week’s hockey day that saw minor hockey players, hockey families, Mennonite players and Sugar Kings alumni take to the ice. He guessed that more than 800 people laced up their skates over the 26 hours, and hundreds more were in the stands watching.
Snyder was at the rink with a phone in one hand and a Blackberry in the other, voting as often as he could. Along with learning how to multitask, Snyder and his family discovered text messaging is the most efficient of the three methods.
“You can do it continuously; you just have to make sure you’ve got a plan that it’s not going to cost you hundreds of dollars to do it.”
“I know on the Blackberry we probably got close to the 10,000 [texts] that our plan allowed for. We did lots of phoning and lots of online too.”
Hockeyville spokesperson Jessica Hanick said she didn’t have the final tally on how many votes were cast, but they topped last year’s total. Last year more than 1.7 million votes were cast in deciding the top five.
At Park Manor Public School, phys-ed teacher Ken Lubert had his health classes add their votes.
“We thought it might be healthy for Woolwich to be Hockeyville, so we took the whole class down to the computer lab and they spent the whole period voting … I believe some of the other teachers found some curriculum ties as well. So we should have had several thousands votes from our school.”
Region of Waterloo employees who logged on to the employee portal found information and links on where to vote on the login page. Regional Chair Ken Seiling also did his part for Woolwich, casting 10 or 12 votes every time he sat down at a computer, and taking in some of the action at the rink.
“I think it’s great to see that many people out and in the arena and supporting the community,” Seiling said. “These kinds of things, win or lose, they’re great community builders.”
That said, Seiling is confident Woolwich will make the top five.
“I’d be surprised if we didn’t,” he said.
The winner of Hockeyville will host an NHL pre-season game, receive $100,000 for their arena and be featured in a one-hour CBC television broadcast. The four runners-up will receive $25,000 each.
Even though they may not know the results for several weeks, Snyder and his team have already turned their attention to the next step: how to showcase Woolwich in the top five, and how to garner the votes to take the top prize.
Right now, Snyder said, they’re looking for ideas from the community on how to present Woolwich to the rest of Canada. The five finalists will be profiled on CBC television between Jan. 31 and Feb. 28.
CBC camera crews will be in town the Thursday after the announcement is made, and the committee wants to have events ready to go.
Along with event ideas, the Hockeyville committee wants suggestions on how to vote most efficiently to propel Woolwich into the top spot. They’d also like to hear stories about how people voted and where they had friends and relatives voting from.
“We had people voting in Japan and New Zealand and Australia and over in Europe and in the United States in Chicago and Atlanta, two cities close to our hearts,” said LuAnn Snyder. “I heard from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time; she said, ‘how did it go on the weekend? I voted my face off all weekend.’”
Suggestions and stories can be submitted through the hockeyville website, www.woolwichhockeyville.ca.
“It would take a monumental effort from the community to be number one,” said Graham Snyder. “We’ve got a lot of things to arrange in the weeks ahead, and we’re just going to proceed as if we’re winners, because we are, whether we win it or we lose it.”