Smokies success helps re-ignite community passion

The Trail Smoke Eaters have had a fantastic playoff run …

I’m writing this before Game 4 of the BCHL Interior Division final Wednesday night so while the outcome of that game is still unknown, I can already safely predict that the Trail Smoke Eaters have enjoyed a fantastic playoff run.

While extending their series with the Wenatchee Wild would be another great boost to the team’s fortunes, there’s no denying that our beloved franchise is reinvigorated and, in turn, has reinvigorated the city.

Following the dramatic, but disappointing, third-period flurry in Game 3 which saw Trail come up a goal short, we trudged out of the Cominco Arena along with the other 2,500 fans slowly making our way home. We inched along in traffic as we waited for our turn to join the flow heading out of downtown.

In many cases the slow-moving crowd and traffic would be another bruise added on to a tough night, but on this one it was a reason to smile.

That many people drawn to downtown Trail on a weeknight is surely a cause for glee. After all it only seemed like a few years ago people were complaining that downtown was deserted, dying and the city’s leaders needed to do something to bring it back to life.

No doubt the city has done its part. The downtown revitalization was the opening strokes, cleaning up along Victoria St. and making it more appealing. Then add the Columbia River Skywalk and, as of Monday, the beautiful Riverfront Centre, and now there are more reasons than ever to go downtown.

The business community – from the Arlington to the Royal Theatre and so many in between, has jumped on board somewhat with new offerings as has, like I mentioned before, The Bailey Theatre, which has become another big downtown draw.

But nothing galvanizes a community like cheering on a team.

South of the border the show “Friday Night Lights” brought to the forefront America’s passion for high school football and how communities bond and ride the rollercoaster of their team’s fortunes.

In Canada, we have “Hockey Night in Canada” as the epitome of our passion for the sport.

As a youngster I remember lying in front of the TV on a Saturday night to watch a Montreal or Toronto game, but the real fun was when we went into town to watch people we knew play in commercial league hockey, especially at playoff time.

The rink would be packed, the kids would be everywhere, friends renew acquaintances, co-workers bonded away from the job site and the friendly rivalries always had an edge but still remained friendly.

That’s been the scene for the most part of the Smoke Eaters season and even more in the playoffs.

It’s funny how the success of a single entity has such a ripple effect. But make no mistake, Trail is still a hockey town and fans love the sport almost has much as they love the hometown team.

And when one aspect of our community can generate so much pride and following, it’s no surprise that it spills over to other facets.

A walk through the Riverfront Centre will only add to that feeling.

The history, pride and passion that emanates from the building can only help fuel the same wave that washes over fans at the Cominco Arena.

Trail Times reporter Sheri Regnier described her visit to the museum as “emotional” when seeing all the incredible stories of our hometown.

There is no shortage of emotion in our city, that’s the makeup of so many small communities across Canada. It just needs to be stoked now and then.

From walking out of the Cominco Arena Wednesday to walking in to the Riverfront Centre, it’s obvious it’s been stoked in Trail once again.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times

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