Sometime in the immediate vicinity of 6 o’clock Friday night, Nicholas Rosett stepped out from the store he co-owns, Savoy’s Jewellers, and quietly stood on storefront sidewalk to observe the goings-on.
What he saw in that cordoned-off area of Queen Street – from Bruce to Dennis Streets – was no accident, no disturbance and no problems. It was one very large gathering of people, many of them ardent Greyhound fans, chatting, chowing, and as one fan put it “having a blast.” Rosset is the Chair of the Downtown Association, organizers of a street party to celebrate the start of the Soo Greyhounds’ 2023-24 Ontario Hockey League season. The opening face-off for the game vs. the Flint Firebirds was less than an hour away but the hundreds of partiers seemed completely, happily, immersed in the moment. Rosset looked content, quietly pleased with what he was witnessing.
The Sault’s downtown has seen some unseemly incidents in recent months, and Rosset mentioned there was none of that nonsense in evidence on this night. “We have to think positively,” he said, matter-of-factly. Well, there were no problems, but plenty of food and beverage vendors, equipped to greet a large, party-hearty gathering. Local group Wyld Stallyns seemed to really connect with the crowd with their rooftop performance, further fueling the festive atmosphere. So many smiling faces. One could be excused for thinking the game had already been played and the Hounds had been victorious. “I think it’s a great event for everybody to come down to,” said Hounds’ fan Brad Black. “I came down with my kids last year and we had a lot of fun. We ended up getting season’s tickets for last year because we came down here. (Tonight) we renewed our season’s tickets for this year, too.”
Jessica Johnson was making her first Greyhound street party appearance, and watched with pride as her 12-year-old daughter, Anna got her face painted. “We’re just having a blast,” said Mom. “Fun for the kids, and fun for us!”
Mike Jagger, Marie Hunter and Tom Brown are all longtime Greyhound fans. Jagger says the Greyhounds will “definitely” make the playoffs. Brown says he’s “looking forward to an exciting season.”
From left are: David McLaughlin, his son, Rowen, age 9, Nicole Fleming, and Andrew Bacskai, age 8. “This is fun and it’s great to get everyone together and support the Greyhounds,” said McLaughlin.
A nine-person contingent of fans in full support of Brady Martin were among the party-goers. Each of the nine sported Hounds’s jerseys with ‘Martin’ on the back.
And the game? Well, the Greyhounds treated the faithful of 4,030 to a great season-opening effort. The Hounds came out of the blocks ferocious, jumping out to a 3-0 lead by the 9:30 mark of the first period enroute to an 11-3 romp over the Firebirds.
With a fun-filled street party followed by such a convincing victory, Friday as a special day for Greyhounds’ fans, one they’re not likely to soon forget.