In the early moments of Sunday’s public event with the Stanley Cup in Port McNeill, residents and visitors could be forgiven for thinking the event was not about them.
After local hero Willie Mitchell emerged from the helicopter on the NISS field and raised the Cup to the cheering of nearly 2,000 fans, he was promptly surrounded by a vanguard of cameramen and reporters who hid him from view for much of the hike to the front doors of Chilton Regional Arena.
Inside, fans were invited to line up in front of the stage for group photos. But chatting with Willie or touching the Cup were met with stern rebukes from organizers and volunteers to face forward toward the camera and, after the photo flash, to quickly move to the exit.
But don’t blame Willie. He was specifically warned against trying to hold a public photo opportunity in the short time he had at the arena. But he not only insisted on the event, he stayed with the Cup and with the fans through nearly an hour-and-a-half of photos, beaming a tired but genuine smile the entire time.
Mitchell could have done as teammate Jonathan Quick, who perched the Cup in his back yard for a small personal party during his turn with it.
No, Port McNeill, this really was about you.