The National Hockey League is taking over Tillsonburg this weekend.
The NHL Centennial Fan Arena is spending three days at the Tillsonburg Community Centre, giving southwestern Ontario a glimpse of its hockey history.
The event is a free for all ages and features a 53-foot museum truck holding more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, video content, historical memorabilia and unique photos. It's available for viewing 12-8 p.m. today and 8-6 p.m. Saturday.
Hockey’s top prize, and one of the world’s most well known trophies, the Stanley Cup, is on site Thursday from 12-3 p.m. and will be there Friday from 12-7 p.m.
The 'Hockey Night in Tillsonburg' gala and auction, which sold out, is taking place Thursday night. Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean is the main speaker and former NHL coach and Tillsonburg area's Gary Green the MC. Proceeds go to towards a new outdoor recreational pad.
The event is being organized by the Kinsmen Club of Tillsonburg, in conjunction with the Town of Tillsonburg.
“As a community, we’re very grateful to the NHL for giving us the opportunity to celebrate this historic milestone with them,” Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar said in a media release. “We’re also grateful to the Kinsmen Club of Tillsonburg for their partnership with the Town of Tillsonburg on this event.”
"Not many non-NHL markets have hosted the Fan Arena so far," said Kinsment Club Special Event liaison Cedric Tomico in the release. "It's quite an honour for our community to be chosen."
The weekend also sees the Hockey For Everyone program, sponsored by Club Oxford and the Tillsonburg Kinsmen Club, collecting used hockey equipment for families in need (the annual winter program introduces hockey to elementary school age children not in minor hockey). Drop off used equipment from 12-8 Friday and 8-6 Saturday.
There will be a free public skate Friday from 12-6 p.m. and an outdoor showing of The Mighty Ducks movie starting Friday at 7:30 p.m. (sposored by Ronson's Audio Video) with free popcorn and drinks - bring your own blanket and seat, followed by an impressive fireworks (similar to the 2017 Canada Day Memorial Park fireworks, which were 20-plus minutes in length).
Saturday has the Tillsonburg Kinettes hosting a breakfast 8-11 a.m. in the Lions Auditorium of the Community Centre. Regular breakfast is $5, large breakfast $8. See tillsonburgkinettes on Facebook for more information.
Saturday, an on-ice demonstration of equipment will be held in the Colin Campbell Community Arnea from 1-4 p.m.
Live entertainment throughout the day, 11-6. On stage will be local musicians - 11 a.m. Fred Hodgson; 12 p.m. Long Story Band; 1 p.m. Cover Story (Shawn Winter of Run for Cover with James Kennedy of Long Story); 2 p.m. Matt Sweetland and Brent Swance; 3 p.m. Chad Chilvers; 4 p.m. Andre Brisson; and 5 p.m. Rick Kibelenko.
Also look for kids entertainment, food trucks, beer garden and more - both Friday and Saturday!
Parking will be available at the Community Centre with entry off Broadway at Lisgar Avenue and Sanders Street. Accessible handicap parking (by permit) is located next to the Kolin Smith Memorial Skate Park - use Lisgar Avenue to Hardy Avenue to access this lot.
Due to the thousands of anticipated attendees, organziers recommend parking at one of the FREE 'remote' parking lots available in town. Locations available online (www.tillsonburgfanarena.com/even-parking.html) or look for signs on Broadway directing you to parking. A complimentary and continuosly running shuttle service (four routes) will begin one hour prior to the Fan Arena opening, and run one hour after closing (a bit later on Friday following the fireworks).
NHL Centennial Fan Arena
The NHL Centennial Fan Arena is a travelling exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NHL and recognize the league’s top 100 players. It made its first appearance January 1 during Toronto’s outdoor game, and it will visit every NHL city during 2017.
Tillsonburg and Kenora, Ont., are the only non-NHL cities to host the full NHL Centennial Fan Arena experience.
Tillsonburg has seen several locals head to the NHL ranks, with Stanley Cup winner Gregory Campbell being the most recent, and father Colin Campbell the NHL’s Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations. Stan Crossett, Lloyd Andrews, William 'Red' Anderson and Eddie Oatman are among others to play in hockey’s top league from the region.
For more information, visit the event website at www.tillsonburgfanarena.com.
- with files from Greg Colgan, Postmedia Network