|Mulock Hawks 2006 Team|
The inclusive Newmarket activity event, first started to engage youth, and free to all participants, has become Ontario's longest running annual ball hockey tourney program - coming before any other similar ball hockey models such as the York Region Character group's after-school start up which uses a very similar program description, the St. Margaret's Hospital for Cancer tourney, Oakville's event, Niagara's, Waterloo's, Hamilton's or even the infamous Canada-wide PlayOn 4 on 4 tourney now billing itself as Canada's largest. Even Walter Gretzky's annual in Brampton - all came after ours.
In fact as I recall, while traveling Ontario to various poverty reduction forums and social networking groups on behalf of PACC which took over the event at the time when the community development project ended, explaining excitingly the virtues of road hockey and telling how it was not only a great cause, but a natural event for marketing as well, being a Canadian "tradition". People asked a lot of questions and wanted know more always it seemed. " It teaches newcomers a Canadian tradition", I'd said. It kept a Canadian traditions alive we wrote. It made kids active and taught responsibility. and on. It was an easy sell. For others too it would seem.
|2013 M.T. Award Winner Tyler Gray, 18|
Obviously they all saw the value too. No worries, we see it all as a compliment.
|First recipient Mike Thornhill Award|
Over the summer, one of the youths who'd begun coming out to community meetings and volunteering to assist in youth outreach was killed across town outside a local Tim Horton's donut shop. The younger youth in the affected community who had befriended this guy, Mike Thornhill on a path to changing his life, received no grief counseling and so, again, we of the community development committee had a dilemma, and created "the Mike Thornhill Memorial Award , a cash / scholarship donation (amount changes each year) presented to a team nominee participant chosen as showing outstanding community leadership.
|News coverage begins|
Three or Four years ago, I thought we were on our way. We'd finally convinced the Main St. businesses that having an event mid-march, in winter, attracting families to Main, was good. As well we'd set up deals with the local vendors to ensure sales by including the restaurants as options ( via tickets) for the players meals which we reimbursed them after the event. I also managed to get a page 3 Toronto Sun article written by a prominent columnist, Joe Warmington, bragging about how great a town we were for embracing it on our Main St., whilst Toronto tried to ban it.
That year we had a tough time getting excess volunteers, and when the booth tables were not delivered - as can happen when relying on volunteers - we scrambled for an alternate location to post info to, a theme which seemed to follow us the whole day. A Murphy's law year. It was fun though, and becoming what we wanted with live entertainers on the streets and inside cafes - to again assist business - and the atmosphere was great, with one of the sponsors Newmarket Mitsubishi's cars strategically placed to separate play areas. We just needed more of a budget to let more people know!
|Electric sponsor in 2013|
What we needed was someone big to grab on to us - instead of the new trend of corporations trying to create their own in-house "programs" and charities.
|Something for all ages|
In 2013 not one politician showed up for the event even though all locals were invited to or got back to me, including the Mayor for the past couple of years - and if not for Newmarket Councilor Joe Sponga, who took from his own budget to help pay for temporary fencing we were told we apparently needed for "safety" for the first time in 9 years at an extra cost of $700, we wouldn't have even held it!
It felt like almost nobody but the kids wanted it.
"What do you think about moving to the Newmarket Plaza' he'd said,
|Bradford Rampage won in 2013|
So we three met to get the car rolling! Gerry, below, had to move his store due to construction.
Car!!Viva Transit was also onboard Joe'd said, and could offer prime ad spot locations perhaps, and maybe dish out the free hot chocolate. The more we talked the better it sounded even though we were back in a parking lot, and as we walked the area inspecting it for feasibility, I began to get excited again..starting to visualize where things could be, and how we could include the businesses in promotions, and expand the format to include younger kids!
|Former location spot for All Pro|
Anyone know where we can get a "slapshot speed detector" with netting for an activity booth?
The Newmarket Plaza has been an area staple for a long time, having been the area's biggest for many years prior to the opening of the Upper Canada Mall, and it maintains a cozy small town feel to it as you stroll it's outdoor walkways, the piped out music adding to the experience. As well I have some personal attachments there, with my mom having run a store some years ago, Oscar & Felix Cookies along with my brother inlaw, and as well one of the events first sponsors, Newmarket Young Drivers of Canada, is also located in the plaza. In fact Joe Sponga, myself and others formed a non-profit group there, where we would meet often ( I chaired for 4 years) while creating and running Operation Sparrow, a forum for kids without means to play organized activities free alongside their peers.
Yes Sir, Ma'am! I needed a boost like that to get motivated and I look forward to the 2014 event at 130 Davis Drive Newmarket Plaza, and to continue to make a difference in young kids' lives, at least for one more year....
UPDATE!!!!unfortunately the Newmarket Plaza's Management nixed the idea last minute, even though the merchants were all for it. Shame.
Location will be Sat Mar 15 2014 at The Town office -
395 Mulock Dr Newmarket
ALSO Watch for the Opening Face Off Party also, Fri Mar 14 at Big Daddy's 446 Davis Drive featuring live entertainment (19+)!
If you'd like to be part of the organizing committee, or ref, or form a team or sponsor / donate, let us know!
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