Kingston may not have taken the top spot in the 2014 Kraft Hockeyville contest, but the village in western Kings County certainly is the winner when it comes to building community pride.
After landing a spot in the competition and making it through quarter- and semifinal rounds to represent eastern Canada, Kingston’s Credit Union Centre won $100,000 for arena upgrades but lost out to the community of Sylvan Lake, AB for the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game. When all the votes were tallied, Sylvan Lake edged out Kingston by a margin of just 108,164 votes. Over five million votes had been cast in total over a 48-hour period, with Kingston receiving over 2.4 million.
After a brief few seconds of disappointment, there were few, if any tears shed in Kingston when the April 5 announcement was made. You need only to turn to a Facebook page dedicated to Kingston’s run at the Hockeyville crown to understand the pride of local residents.
In an April 7 post, Mary Miller Wredenhagen characterized April 5 as a “great day for Kingston. The coming together of community – near and far – throughout this entire process has been inspiring. What we won through community and togetherness is so much more important than an (NHL) pre-season game.”
Rick Anscomb, who worked as part of a community collective to promote Kingston’s hockeyville dream agreed.
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“Kingston demonstrated community spirit above and beyond the norm. We managed to impress enough people to vote for us resulting in $100,000 in funding from the competition. For that, we are very grateful,” he commented on April 6.
Indeed, social media played a big part in Kingston’s success in the national contest. A campaign that was very well co-ordinated encouraged residents and friends of Kingston to post their memories of the arena helped to get the rink into the top 16. A continued push during the voting stage propelled the Kingston arena into the top two.
Most importantly, the people of Kingston embraced the opportunity and wholeheartedly believed, throughout the process, that their village rink was a contender. They shared their vision for a rejuvenated arena that will continue to be an important community gathering-place well into the future.
A post by Fred Wade of Wolfville perhaps best sums up the whole Hockeyville experience and the legacy it leaves behind.
“Kingston and community have already won a gift far greater than the title of Hockeyville: the gift of people pulling together as a community.”
And that gift is priceless.