I'm also lucky enough to have most of my immediate family living close by. My brother moved to Ottawa years ago. Once he and I both started having kids, my mom and dad felt that overwhelming compulsion of grandparents everywhere and moved here as well.
It's great having them all close and even though we're all busy, we do tend to see other on a semi-regular basis. In fact, recently, I attended a Canadian Football League (CFL) game with my mom, dad and brother.
For those unfamiliar with the CFL, it's a Canadian version of it's larger and more renowned American cousin, the National Football League (NFL). Major differences include: less chances to move the ball, a wider field and 12 men on the field instead of 11. While the league has only officially been in existence since 1958, it's trophy, the Grey Cup, has been contested in some form since 1909. After a long absence, last year, the league officially expanded to nine teams and returned to Ottawa as the RedBlacks.
After a rough first season, the RedBlacks started the 2015 campaign with a 2-1 record and the city has been excited about the product on the field. Even a rainy forecast couldn't hide the enthusiasm for a rematch with dreaded rival, the Edmonton Eskimos. Armed with my coffee, a somewhat waterproof jacket and a sad, broken umbrella, I set out to meet up with my brother and parents to take in the game at the newly renovated Landsdowne Park.
Check out the great seats and the giant helmet. Interesting to note; when the decision was made to bring football back to the nation's capital, part of the deal included a rebuild of Landsdowne Park. This has included building a great new shopping complex complete with bars, restaurants and a movie theatre.
There's even posh condos that overlook the field. Laura and I took in a movie and drinks at the Cineplex VIP theater a few weeks back (yes, drinks in the theater). It was an amazing experience. If you ever get to Ottawa, make sure to put a visit to Landsdowne Park on the itinerary.
After a few sprinkles on the way to the game, the skies opened up and we got absolutely soaked but that's nothing a few beers can't counteract though. My mom, brother and I were troopers, but after the first quarter, my dad retreated to the covered concourse to watch the rest of the game.
The CFL and the RedBlacks do a great job of making the game fun and have taken a real interest in the community. On the night we went to the game, they had partnered up with the local food bank and Purolator to collect non-perishables under the campaign #TackleHunger. They even brought in the Grey Cup to get your picture taken with, which my mom and I took full advantage.
The rain slowed down the game, kept scoring to a minimum and perhaps dampened the enthusiasm, but certainly didn't keep the crowd away. Even our nation's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper was in attendance. When I say Ottawa is an awesome town, how many places on earth can you get your country's leader to agree to a selfie during halftime?
Sorry for the bad quality, but when I went to hit the button, I guess I got nervous and flipped my phone out of selfie mode. Which the Prime Minister (PM) graciously pointed out. I was about to walk away with an amazing picture of the security guards and beer concession when the PM mentioned that he thought I had the camera facing the wrong way. Thanks for the assist Mr. Prime Minister.
Despite the rain and a loss by the home team, I realized that this was the one of the first times in many years that I had been out with my just my mom, dad and brother without our children and spouses. It was really nice to spend some quality time talking and watching one of the sports together like we used to when I was a kid.
Great job Ottawa RedBlacks on making this a fantastic outing for this grown up family!
As a final extra thought, I was able to get the Office of the Prime Minister to send me an official non-selfie version which I thought I should share.