Snowy Grey Cup thriller caps off week of celebrations in Ottawa

Glebe merchants say Lansdowne Park festivities were a boon for business
Grey Cup
(Image via CFL Communications)

Tens of thousands of people flooded through the Glebe in Ottawa to enjoy the week-long Grey Cup festival, generating a surge in foot traffic for businesses in the area.

"We've got all our staff coming in this weekend. All hands on deck just to take care of the increase of people out and about," said Mike Estabrooks, manager of Irene's Pub Restaurant on Bank Street.

Andrew Peck, executive director of the Glebe BIA, was out going door-to-door last week checking in on local businesses gauging their mood for the festival, and it was very positive.

"A lot of them have already started doing window displays. We're getting into the holiday season as well," he said. "It's totally animating the area. The mood is thrilling and excitement."

The major difference between the Grey Cup and other major events that have been held at TD Place over the years is the length.

Most concerts or sporting events only last a day, but the Grey Cup had days of activities leading up to it, including Capital Pride Party on Nov. 23 and the Tailgate Party on Sunday.

"There's a level of impact that goes way beyond a one-off event. This is a major deal," said Peck. "People are very excited."

Sunday night's game attracted a sellout crowd of 36,154 to TD Place, which added extra capacity with temporary seating.

Organizers predicted that the Grey Cup game and festival would generate $100 million in local economic activity.

Fourth-quarter comeback

Inside TD Place, the 105th Grey Cup kicked off in a winter wonderland, and ended with a messy but entertaining 27-24 win by the Toronto Argonauts over the Calgary Stampeders.

Snow started falling about two hours before Sunday's kickoff, and by the time the teams took the field, officials were scrambling to clear the turf.

Several dozen stadium employees raced with shovels to uncover the lines, while snow plows attempted to clear the end zones. The shovellers and plows also came out during every stoppage in play early on in an effort to keep the snow at bay, and two full-sized plows attached to trucks were added to the snow-clearing effort at halftime.

The temperature at kickoff was minus 3 Celsius, and snow fell steadily throughout the first half before letting up.

A pre-game flyover featuring two of the Royal Canadian Air Force's CF-18 Hornets was cancelled due to the snow. But the conditions were perfect for halftime performer Shania Twain, as the country star was conveyed to the stage on a dog sled.

"What better way to win a Grey Cup than in the snow?" Toronto defensive back Cassius Vaughn, who recovered a fumble and returned it a Grey Cup record 110 yards to tie the game 24-24, said after the game. "It's the most Canadian thing you could do, win a Grey Cup in the snow."

Capital pride

As Sunday night's festivities drew to a close, many residents took to social media to congratulate organizers on hosting such a successful event.

In less than three weeks, Lansdowne Park will host another major sporting event when the Ottawa Senators take on the Montreal Canadiens during the outdoor NHL classic on Dec. 16.

– With reporting by Metro News, the Canadian Press and OBJ staff