BY STEPHANIE LEFEBVRE
By purchasing a $20 ticket, people of all ages could enjoy An Evening with the Kitchener Rangers. From 7 to 9 p.m., there were several events throughout Kitchener Memorial Auditorium that featured at least one player at each station.
The events included face painting, autograph signing, slapshot practice and pictures.
And even though the official numbers aren’t in yet, Karina Tutak, the marketing and communications officer for United Way Kitchener Waterloo and Area, said the estimated amount raised that night was $18,000.
At the beginning of the evening, Mike Farwell, of Sportsnet 590 The Fan, welcomed everyone to the event. As the emcee, he gave an overview of the night’s agenda and introduced Varner so she could explain what the night was all about.
“It’s to raise funds for this community through United Way K-W,” she said. “This represents a strong connection to the Kitchener Rangers’ history of community support. This year we decided to recognize and celebrate the Kitchener Rangers in their 50 years of history.”
She went on to thank many supporters and sponsors, including the media for making the event happen.
The fans were thankful as well. Over the course of the evening, they had a chance to talk to the players, ask them questions and have their pictures taken with them.
The event was a fundraiser for the United Way, but Rangers head coach and general manager Steve Spott used it as a teaching tool as well.
“The players will make tonight part of a legacy. Not just on the ice but in the community as well. They understand that it is (fans’) support that has built and strengthened our franchise and we’re proud to give back.”
He also said his players know that in addition to being hockey players they are part of the community too.
Which is why, due to the recent $9.6-million renovation to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, funded by the Rangers hockey club in the form of a repayable loan from the city, the players now have a lounge and dressing room worthy of 50 years of entertainment.
Spott said the updated centre has afforded the players world-class facilities to train and play in. It also allows for about 1,000 extra seats to be filled with fans each night.
During the evening, fans could tour the dressing rooms, which were much nicer than expected, aside from the typical dressing room smell.
Two of the most popular activities throughout the night were viewing players’ jerseys and their locker areas.