Rolling out heroes' welcome

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

Even if only the whole Moir clan showed up, Ilderton would still be jammed.

But Saturday, the tiny community's first family of figure skating will have plenty of extra company for a parade and party honouring Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's golden run at the Olympics in Vancouver and the world championships in Italy.

The small town where the dynamic ice dance duo's grand gold-medal dreams began is preparing for a world-class celebration.

"It's going to be a big one," said Scott's aunt Carol Moir, the skating coach who originally matched the promising kids. "For the part inside the arena (at 5 p.m.), we started with 2,000 ($5) tickets and those are already gone. We're on to the final 1,000, and when those are done, that'll be it because we'll be at capacity."

There will be a big-screen TV outside the arena providing a live look at what's going on inside.

Tracy Wilson, TV commentator and former Olympic ice dance bronze medalist, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Those $5 tickets, plus donations from businesses, will help fund the $20,000 it takes to erect four entrance signs proclaiming Ilderton the home of the Virtue and Moir team, plus other legacy gifts.

The day will start with a 45-minute parade at 3 p.m. before a brief autograph session.

Instead of the trademark ride on a fire truck, Virtue and Moir will be rocking a horse-and-buggy.

That's old school compared to their recent jet-setting ways. They've been going non-stop the last few months.

They've participated in a cross-Canada Stars On Ice tour. They signed a deal with Roots. They have a book on their experiences set for release later this year. They took a one-week vacation away from each other.

Jim Virtue has barely seen his daughter since Vancouver.

"We had dinner after Stars in London (last month)," he said. "It's been pretty crazy for them."

And this week, they just returned from the Korean equivalent of Stars On Ice.

"It'll be a true homecoming," Carol Moir said. "It's taken a lot of work planning but the community groups, the agricultural board, the (Ilderton) Fair committee and our local businesses all banded together to pull this off. All the steering committee wanted was for Tessa and Scott to enjoy the day and that's it."

There will be four different bands -- Potentially Wasted, Moonshine Riders, River Junction Band and Steve Frost & Common Ground -- pumping the music from 7-11 p.m.

"At first, we tried to get Blue Rodeo because Scott got to know (singer) Jim Cuddy at the Olympics, and the Tragically Hip, but they turned us down," Carol Moir joked.

There will be a considerable Olympic feel, including an effort to paint the town red the way Ilderton did during the Games. Six torchbearers from the area will re-create their duties with 30 children running alongside.

Three months after Vancouver, has Canada's Olympic pride petered out?

Not in Ilderton. Not in London. Not for Virtue and Moir.

"Not a day goes by that someone doesn't stops me -- whether it's on the street, in an elevator or on the stairs -- and wants to talk about the Olympics," Jim Virtue said. "It doesn't surprise me (by what Ilderton has planned Saturday). They always came out in droves to support the kids. That's never changed. I imagine it's going to be a nice mix of skating people and town people and I'm looking forward to it."


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