By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – There’s no ice breaker like pond hockey when it comes to having a good time.
Planners of Julia’s Hope Cup hope the weather will co-operate so they can build the one-day fundraiser around “good old Canadian pond hockey.”
The 6th annual tournament is at Chippawa Park, Saturday, February 4.
If the pond is frozen over, as purists say it should be if our Canadian winter weather comes through, “pond hockey” will be played on the popular outdoor rink.
If it isn’t the games will go on but as ball hockey in the parking lot.
Paul Turner stickhandles through an interview with memories of playing pond hockey as a kid growing up near Chippawa Park.
He and his pals would play for hours, then wind down with cups of hot chocolate at one or another of their homes.
“Nothing like Canadian pond hockey in the cold of winter,” he recalled over – yep, you got it – a cup of hot chocolate at a local Timmy’s.
The tournament is named after Julia Turner, Paul and wife Tina’s daughter, who died of cancer in December, 2011. She was 15.
She had a soft spot in her heart for people who are vulnerable, especially children who have to cope with social issues like homelessness and hunger.
Turner said the event combines fun and raising awareness about homelessness. Funds raised go to Welland’s Hope Centre.
Because it is geared to appealing to families, it has a “carnival-like” atmosphere focusing on family fun, Turner said.
That includes children’s games and activities, a silent auction and, weather permitting, tobogganing on the park hill overlooking First Avenue.
Julia’s Hope Cup receives an outpouring of support from local residents, businesses and community groups, Turner said.
Breakfast and lunch are free. The well-known chefs, Anna and Mike Olson, will prepare gourmet hot chocolate; Niagara College students will serve up chili; M.T. Bellies owner John Clark will provide pea-meal bacon sandwiches. Club Richelieu members will have the club’s baked beans in good supply; there will be a pig roast by Chuck Simpson and plenty of Tim Horton’s coffee will be served.
Turner said City of Welland staff “do great work for us” grooming the ice if it’s available and in providing Chippawa Park Community Centre especially if it is cold and folks need a place to get warm.
Cost to play in the hockey tournament is $100 per adult or $50 per student. It sounds costly, but players can get pledges from friends and family to lighten the cost.
“It doesn’t have to be $100 out of your pocket. Get friends to throw in a few bucks, then get them to come to the park, watch you play and share in the fun,” Turner said.
To make the tournament as competitive as possible, teams are put together by choosing names from a hat.