A crowd of nearly 4,000 people got what it wanted when hometown hero Willie Mitchell touched down on the NISS school field in a helicopter and emerged to hoist the Stanley Cup high overhead.
“I told you it was coming, and here it is,” said Mitchell, the crowd whooping as he rested the 58-pound NHL championship trophy on his shoulders. “Let’s celebrate.”
After Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney read a proclamation naming Aug. 12 Willie Mitchell Day, and arena founder and namesake Dale Chilton made a short speech honouring Mitchell’s accomplishment, Mitchell took the microphone once again as a capacity crowd of nearly 2,000 fans cheered loudly.
Mitchell’s 24 hours with the Cup were a whirlwind of activity that covered a sizeable chunk of the North Island and included almost everything but sleep. After picking up the Cup in Vancouver around midnight Sunday morning, he flew into Nimmo Bay Resort for several hours of partying, followed by a nap and a fishing trip. He then flew to the ceremonies in Port McNeill and Alert Bay — and a stop for a quick photo pop kissing the Cup atop Mount Benedict — before retiring to Telegraph Cove for a final party with a smaller, select group of family and friends before the clock ticked down on his day.
Emotions ran high as the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel arrived on the North Island and opened up its microphones to residents. And the full gamut of those emotions was on display during oral presentations at the Civic Centre.
“We should be capitalizing on this being supernatural British Columbia, not super tanker British Columbia,” marine biologist and environmentalist Jackie Hildering said, choking up near the end of her 10-minute presentation.
The Coal Harbour Activity Centre drew visitors in their finery to an afternoon tea and dance in honour of Her Highness and the room was suitably decked out with Union Jacks, portraits of Her Majesty, a throne and, of course, fine china and cucumber sandwiches as the North Island marked the Queen’s Jubilee.