[twitter]We weren’t going to go to the Stampede this year. The boys are off to Invermere for a week with their grands next week and with the parade and events leading up to their vacation, we weren’t going to do it.
Then the spirit got me.
There’s something about Calgary during Stampede. It’s Mardi Gras, and Christmas, and everything awesome all rolled in to one. Windows are painted on businesses, people dress up (like cowboys), there are parades, parties, and events all over town.
It’s a wonderful time of year. And it got me swept up.
So we went. We had to.
The best part of the day was Zacharie’s makeup. At the Stampede breakfast in the morning, he got a moustache painted on his face, and it was the best Magnum moustache on a kid I’ve ever seen. It fit perfectly, and gave him a certain horse drawn swagger for the day. So we went to the Stampede.
The boys walked a few steps in the door and saw Dusty Crophopper.
They walked a few more steps and got ice creams the size of Charlie’s head.
Then they wanted to play some games to win a prize. First it was ring toss and no luck.
Then they tried their hand at darts. I was wary, but Zacharie was certain he would win after they had a balloon popping exercise at school. Sure enough, the kid did it and, so did Charlie! No help from dad.
We went in the kid zone and fired Nerf guns, did some coloring, hopped in bouncy castles, played with Play-Doh, and more. We visited the Coke booth and got our names printed on cans. The boys have never had a soda, don’t even want to try it, but I couldn’t resist the draw of personalizing cans of this iconic brand. So we did…
But the big reason for the visit was for Zacharie to defend his title as Kid’s Chuckwagon Champion. They have these little hand pulled chuckwagons the kids can ride and Zacharie won last year, he wanted to go again. The minimum age was 5, but after coaching Charlie a couple of times to say he was “5” (full palm out), he sat on the bench to race too.
The whole day leading up to the Stampede, Zacharie was talking about how he “wanted to win for Charlie.” We were talking about how he won last year, and if he would win again, and he declared he would. “For Charlie.” He explained that he already had a medal and he wanted to win one for his brother.
The boys don’t know the story of Gilmore Junio and Denny Morrison, honorary parade marshals at this year’s Stampede. He doesn’t know how Gilmore gave up his spot in a speed skating final in Sochi so Morrison, the stronger skater, could have a better shot at getting the team a medal. Zacharie has never heard it, but he understands the selflessness Junio displayed perfectly.
Zacharie won his race, as promised. And seconds after getting his medal placed around his neck by the emcee, he made true on his promise. He immediately lifted it off, searched for his brother, and draped it on his shoulders.
Charlie beamed. And so did Zacharie, his bushy Magnum PI moustache making him appear well beyond his years, matching the actions he just displayed.
The spirit of Calgary at Stampede is wonderful. It’s about coming together and celerating as a community, having some pancakes, meeting your neighbour, and winning a medal for your little brother.