The first Grey Cup hoisted by the Calgary Stampeders, in 1948, was accompanied by epic celebrations, a bacchanalian cross-country train trip and, famously, horses being ridden into the posh Royal York in downtown Toronto.
Stamps supporters had been hoping to re-create Thursday morning that legendary moment, part of a series of parties and events intended to bring a taste of the west to central Canada.
But a spokeswoman for the Fairmont Royal York was quick to pour cold water on the idea.
“We’ve heard of the rumours surrounding the attempt to bring a horse into the lobby, but we will not be supporting any efforts in doing so,” Catherine Tschannen said by e-mail. “Our first priority is always the health and safety of our guests, and the safety of the horse of course!”
Calgary city councillor Ray Jones, who is planning to fly to Toronto Wednesday, said that he will learn the final plans that evening. But, he could confirm, “we always have horses around because it’s our mascot.”
In a piece published Monday, committee spokesman Brad Greenslade noted the famous 1948 horse ride and wrote that “we are going back to Toronto for the 100th Grey Cup to do it all over again.”
Among the many plans are music and dancing, massive pancake breakfasts and an entertainment show for school children. The Calgary Stampede queen, three princesses and politicians will be on hand. A dozen stoves, a chuckwagon and 5,000 cardboard cowboy hats will be brought. And also on hand will be a man dressed as an equine, the mascot known as Charlie Horse.
“Of course, our signature event of riding a horse into one of these events is always fulfilled, says the Calgary Grey Cup Committee, which will be on site for its 64th straight year, working to turn “a football game into a national festival.”
The horsey invasion of the hotel is tentatively planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday.