I used to be uptight (some might say I still am).
This week, I celebrate the 3rd anniversary of moving to Calgary, and I think I’m loosening up a bit as I finally appreciate what Calgary is about. This is a friendly, sharing, good time place, and it’s time the rest of Canada came and got on board with the party.
You can make jokes about Calgary being Cowtown, about how the citizenry are a gang of rednecks, but there’s something that people from this city understand – being neighbourly.
From the Snow Angels campaign that encourages people to shovel each other’s driveway after a snowfall, to the dozens of pancake breakfasts held during the Calgary Stampede, there is a sense of community, camaraderie, and friendliness in this city.
The White Hat Ceremony is about welcoming visitors and treating them as a local and showering them with a welcoming warmth that makes them feel immediately a part of the community.There’s a reason Calgary’s mascots for the 1988 were called Howdy and Hidy. Calgarians are friendly people and not afraid to say Howdy, Hi, or Hello to welcome a stranger.
This year the Grey Cup turns 100 and Calgarians are held responsible for showing Canada what the party should be about. In 1948 a gaggle of 250 fans boarded trains for Toronto and the big game. It took them 4 days to get there, and they stopped off across the prairies having parties and making friends the whole way.
The defining moment was a horse parading through the lobby of Royal York Hotel. Before there were tigers in Las Vegas penthouses in The Hangover, a rowdy bunch of cowpokes brought livestock in to one of the poshest hotels in the country. Just because.
Today Calgarians tried to recreate the moment, but the horse was stopped at the hotel’s front door. Health and safety concerns were cited, so the horse walked down the street and into a bank instead. Dozens of people flashed photos, laughed, and smiled the whole time at the strange spectacle of a horse in a bank.
And that’s what Calgary is about. A laugh, a smile, and a shared moment of spontaneity to loosen up the spirit.
This week Calgarians will descend upon Nathan Phillips Square and serve up pancakes for strangers for free as a way to say hello, hi, and howdy. New friends will be made, smiles will be shared, and a good time will be had.
Go ahead and cling to your stereotype of Calgarians as rednecks from Cowtown, but if you ever experience the hospitality first hand you will say it with a smile.
*update* Eventually Marty was invited back to the Royal York to parade through the lobby. Yahoo!