This year was my first ever attending the Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Carnival. I’ve heard about the event plenty of times before but never found myself in a position to attend. This year my girlfriend decided to take her son to get a picture with Jaromir Jagr at the carnival as a Christmas present and brought me along for the ride. You can read about my experience after the jump.
First and foremost you need to know that this is a massive charity event and rare in the National Hockey League. It’s been going on since 1977 and has raised over $23 million for local charities. It occurs every year in February and, as the name implies, is organized by the players’ and coaches wives. This year’s carnival was primarily organized by co-chairpersons Nadine Coburn and Lauren Pronger. You can find additional information on their web site.
The lines are massive and you’ll be waiting a while for some things, especially autographs and photos for star players. That said the access you get to the lower guys on the totem pole and alumni is great.
I saw Frank “The Animal” Bialowas! there! I was convinced he was locked up in a Russian prison! We didn’t even have to wait to see Craig Berube and Joe Mullen as they were working a spin the wheel rafffle contest. You can also find stands for the players’ individual charities, like Scott Hartnell’s #hartnelldown charity, which could be found as soon as you walked in. I spoke with Seth Hastings, creator of the hartnelldown hashtag on Twitter, who was the working the stand today. Seth told me that they had been consistently busy throughout the day and even sold out of black toques.
This is a fantastic event if you have kids. Flyers play video games like Wii Boxing, NHL 12, and Just Dance with them and have a blast. There are bouncy houses and slides located throughout the Wells Fargo Center. There was a dunk tank on the main floor that saw current players, alumni, and even radio host Mike Missanelli in it. Who doesn’t love a dunk tank? The best kid oriented event has to be where you can take a shot on the goalie. Both Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky were in there. I’m sure children scoring goals on them does wonders for their confidence!
In all seriousness though it’s a hell of a thrill for a kid to be able to step up and take a shot against an NHL goalie. I also saw an unnamed goalie in there later with Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja helping those taking the shots.
The main drawback for the event for many people is the price. Not much is cheap and even less is free. Basic tickets cost $20 and a photo with a star player can be a bunch on top of that (Jagr was $30). But the whole point of the event is charity so it’s a pretty terrible time to get cheap. Just be aware of how much it costs before going. You can meet the team, get pictures in the penalty box, see the Stanley Cup, pick up some cool swag, and have a stellar Sunday afternoon.
On a final note I’d like to point out how nice everyone was. Peter Laviolette was as cool as you’d imagine. My girlfriend joked with Andrej Meszaros about scoring more for her fantasy team. As for Jagr? Absolutely fantastic. He was fist bumping everyone who walked in and saluted in some pictures if he was asked. Joe Mullin helped us win a grill/cooler bag at the end of the day, I’m not sure it gets much cooler than that. A salute to the Flyers organization for a job well done!