Jesse Newman returned to Powell River with an old friend that needs no introduction.
The Grey Cup was front and centre at Powell River Kings’ game on Sunday afternoon where sports fans got a chance to meet the city’s biggest hero.
Newman, who stands six feet four inches tall and weighs over 300 pounds, carried the cup like a mug while the youngest admirer, a tiny baby wearing a BC Lions’ bib, had a picture taken while perched inside the bowl.
Young and old alike delighted in visiting with Newman but Powell River’s favourite Lion said despite the long day he enjoyed the experience more than anyone.
“I woke up at 2 am to pick the cup up in Victoria,” he said, “and drove up island to catch the first ferry over, so it’s been a long (emphasis on long) day.”
After a short nap Newman was at Hap Parker Arena to meet and greet his many admirers.
“I don’t think there was much of a plan,” he said. “Take as many pictures as people ask and sign as many things as they want.”
After an hour of smiling and shaking hands with fans Newman and the Grey Cup were introduced prior to the game and he dropped a ceremonial puck between the captains.
More ceremony took place between the first and second period when Newman, cup in hand, congratulated each of the CEP Local 76 Powell River Midgets who won the Vancouver Island Tier Two Midget Championship and will represent our city at the provincials in Victoria.
“Hopefully some of his winning ways will rub off on our players,” said coach Dave Csuk.
After the game Newman was back to smiling and shaking hands with admirers in the foyer and he didn’t leave until every last fan had had a chance to take a picture or get an autograph.
“There were some people I haven’t seen since high school or junior high,” he said, “and that goes back half of my life. It was a fun day and I’m definitely glad for how it turned out.”
One of the stops on his trip that didn’t turn out, because of the teachers’ strike, was his visit to his old school, Grief Point Elementary.
“There was lots of stuff that I wanted to do,” he said of the disappointment, “and going back to my old elementary school was one of them, especially since the kids sent me cards prior to the western final. I was looking forward to it,” he said. However, “a lot of them showed up at the game so that was definitely good.”
It was a whirlwind tour for Newman that ended all too soon. “I wanted to bring it to the hospital, the rugby club and a couple of friends here and there that would have really enjoyed it,” he said. “But I only have a day so we’ll have to do it again.”
He was grateful for this chance to share the Grey Cup. “It’s great to be able to do this,” he said, “and I’m pretty damn lucky. I can definitely put up with being tired for a day to do stuff like this.”