Grey Cup village is epicentre of festivities
Published: 7 hours ago
MONTREAL- Before you know it, Grey Cup fever will be hitting Montreal. The clock in Place du Canada is ticking down and a compact Grey Cup village has begun to appear in the downtown square in recent days.
Opening ceremonies in the square adorned by Sir John A. Macdonald's statue are set for Nov. 19. But judging from the number and size of the temporary shelters erected on the site, it's clear the village concept will be considerably more sophisticated than it was in 2001, the last time Montreal hosted the Grey Cup.
The organizing committee for the 96th Grey Cup, to be held Nov. 23 at the Olympic Stadium, has a full roster of music concerts and other events, most of which are scheduled for the downtown area.
In 2001, organizers decided that a village should be mounted in Place du Canada, and their efforts produced mixed results. Some visitors and fans loved the concept, while others took a wide berth and instead spent most of their time in the many bars and restaurants for which Montreal is renowned.
Since then, the 2001 idea for a Grey Cup village has been embraced by other host cities.
"Other cities took our 2001 concept and centralized their events; now we are taking this tent-village concept to the next level, with bigger and better tents and better shows this year," said Louis-Philippe Dorais, assistant vice-president of communications of the Alouettes, hosts of this year's game.
Musical shows under the tents will be free and feature such Québécois artists as country singer Véronique Labbé, harmonica virtuoso Guy Bélanger, and blues singer Angel Forrest.
For fans of rock music, the imaginatively named Marc Parent and Wang Dang Doodle will be performing, as will the Porn Flakes and Elevation, a cover band doing U2 songs.
The traditional Calgary-hosted pancake breakfast will be held on De la Cathédrale St., just east of Place du Canada, on Nov. 21. A cheerleading competition will be staged in the village Nov. 22, the day before the game.
Elsewhere in Montreal, the Canadian Football League players awards will be held at the Montreal Casino on Nov. 20; a gala featuring local songbird Nikki Yanofsky and very funny comic Sugar Sammy will be staged Nov. 22 in Windsor Station. Also on Nov. 22, a breakfast with some legendary CFL players will take place in the ballroom of the Marriott-Chateau Champlain, immediately south of the village.
De la Cathédrale between René Lévesque Blvd. and de la Gauchetière St. will be closed to traffic, with games of flag football scheduled daily.
"The village will honour the party atmosphere that Montreal is famous for," said Dorais.
For the full schedule of events go to www.greycupfestival.ca