People at the Hearts

ALLISON GRAHAM -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

I must admit, the Caution, Nightlife Ahead billboards that were put up across the city caught my attention.

Organizers of the Scott Tournament of Hearts were obviously trying to drive the message home that the national event was about more than just what happens on the rink.

The signs, sponsored by Bill Hall of Pattison Outdoor Advertising, helped build anticipation. But were they enough?

Attendance at party central for the tournament -- the HeartStop Lounge also known as the second level of the London Convention Centre -- to some degree, has mirrored that at the John Labatt Centre. Some nights hot, some nights not so hot.

To gain entry to any of the concerts and activities at the HeartStop Lounge a person must have a curling admission ticket for that day. This was quite disappointing for those who wanted to see the bands, but not the curling. To me, it begs the question, why all of the promotion around night life if you weren't opening it to everyone, especially when it's off site?

The slower nights at the beginning of the week didn't faze Kerry Lackie, vice-chair of the HeartStop Lounge, because, according to her, one thing's for sure -- the numbers are consistently higher than HeartStop Lounges at previous tournaments.

First and foremost, she explained, those expected to attend the HeartStop Lounge are curling fans, which accounts for why the numbers are sparse while the draws are being played.

The volunteers at 10 p.m. who were caught yawning were forced to quickly wake up as shuttle buses started transporting eager party-goers from the John Labatt Centre. On Thursday night, this was certainly the case as it went from dozens of people in the room to almost a thousand in a matter of minutes when the Shelly Rastin band was performing.

Randy Bachman doubled the numbers Friday night as security opted to hold people in a line to ensure a controlled environment.

Assisting Lackie with the HeartStop Lounge were three directors: Dave Bowden, bar services; Brent Clarke, facilities; and Jack Phillips, banking; as well as 120 additional volunteers.

If starting the Friday night festivities at a late hour didn't fit into your usual sleep pattern that was OK too. There was a lot of fun to be had, especially in the corporate suites at the John Labatt Centre.

Mary Lou Greenwood of Rogers Cable and Jim Detlor of Rogers Wireless both hosted suites for the Friday night draw. Rogers sponsored all of the communication needs for the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

In true Greenwood luxury style, all of the women invited to her suite were treated to copious amounts of food and she even managed to get martinis added to the bar list. Greenwood's guest included Isabel DeAmaral, ISAM Properties; Brenda Trineer, Tricar Group; B.J. Santavy, Transglobe Properties; Ann LaRocque, BOB FM; school teacher Andrea Parker; and Sue Bierbaum.

In the end, two men managed to crash the girls' night out -- Bernie Bierbaum, Sue's husband, and Frank Boussen, Mary Lou's hubby. Both were only convinced to attend as they were told the other male colleague would be there.

Sue, an avid curler and a volunteer for the Hearts, was glued to the game but was happy to teach the non-curlers in the suite about the sport.

Also there were Pat Logan, Woodstock Sentinel Review; Linda Wheatley, The London Free Press; and Sandy Sifton.


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