It feels like the fates are working hard to help us ease into our new home in the South. First, it was snow on the day after Christmas so we didn’t miss having a white holiday. Next, Raleigh was the lucky home of the NHL All-Star Game in 2011. Hockey is Brian’s favorite sport to watch and play so it was nice to have a little revelry in our new hometown.
Of course, we get a little homesick every once in a while. Mainly we miss our friends, but not the snow or dry climate (especially since Colorado is expecting a high of 2 degrees on Tuesday with snow and Raleigh will be sitting pretty at 57 degrees with wide blue skies). It’s hard to miss Colorado too much when we have so much fun and exciting new things to explore and experience.
Raleigh hosted the NHL in style – southern style. She recreated the local summer staple Raleigh Wide-Open to become a chilly cousin NHL All-Star Wide Open Street Fair complete with street vendors, a giant paper mache puppet parade, roller derby girls and free live music. It is a nice reminder of why we moved to the South. We strolled down the streets downtown with just a sweater (or just a t-shirt in Brian’s case) in late January. Warm weather wonderful-ness.
My two favorite things were the snow mounds in the WRAL booth and the sledding hill . Both were more ice than snow, but such a nice nod to hockey’s snowy roots.
The street fair was centered around the Raleigh Convention Center which was host to the NHL All-Star Fan Fair filled with fan appreciation activities. For just $10 a person (advance tickets were even cheaper at $8) everyone got a chance to test their chances at being an all-star.
The highlight of the event is Lord Stanley’s Cup which was on a riser, dead center in the Convention Center with a 2+ hour line worth of fans snaked at its feet. And yes, we did standing in that line and touched the Stanley Cup for approximately 30 seconds as they took our picture. It was totally worth the wait. It’s inspiring to be so close to a trophy hoisted by so many famous people. We also saw the Stanley Cup’s keeper, fancy.
Another highlight was the Bauer booth where you could try on the latest high-tech hockey equipment. Brian enjoyed watching me fit my noggin in a goalie mask (it was hot and tight). Bauer also hosted a high-speed video slap shot booth where hockey hopefuls could see the physics it takes to make a winning goal.
A very cool aspect, to an event planner and general brand nerd like me, was the big reveal of the NHL’s new branding campaign, The Guardian Project. This new project tapped the mind of Stan Lee to transform the spirit of each of the NHL’s 30 teams into superheroes. When guests entered the Fan Fair they were held in a staging area that included a simple light show and voice-over giving back story to The Guardian Project. Once the story completed patrons were ushered into a hall with the new images of each of the superhero team mascots. Huge 20′ tall panels of the new branding was overwhelming and impressive. It was an exciting way to enter the event and an invigorating introduction to the new branding. One weird aspect was once they decided the patrons “were done” with the hall it went completely dark to keep the crowd moving. Very disappointing for a girl like me who wanted to see the new art.