November 22, 2012
Toronto hotel relents, allows Stampeders' Grey Cup horse in
By MARYAM SHAH, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Horses in hotels normally have their naysayers.
But, saddled with constant calls for Marty — the Calgary Grey Cup Committee’s mascot — to be allowed into the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, management relented Thursday.
The 15-year-old horse officially checked in with a hoofprint signature as football fans cheered and curious guests looked on.
Five hours earlier, the hotel had denied entry to the horse, citing health and safety reasons.
Marty — with committee chairman Fletcher Armstrong in the saddle — was attempting to recreate the 1948 moment when a horse walked into the posh Toronto hotel’s lobby.
The Calgary crew tried to bring a horse into the hotel in 2007, when the Grey Cup was last contested in Toronto, but was not let in.
“It ain’t over yet!” rider Fletcher Armstrong yelled Thursday after the failed attempt.
The horse then made its way to a backup host: The Bank of Montreal offered its First Canadian Place lobby for Marty to make a grand entrance.
BMO vice-president Paul Deegan said they made the decision to welcome the horse at 8 a.m.
“Should we sign the horse up as a customer?” an employee joked as Marty and the Calgary committee rode up to the tellers’ counter.
When asked if he had a plan for any unexpected deposits, Deegan said: “We have shovels.”
After a much-welcome change of heart by hotel spokesmen and a stop at an Irish pub — where Marty sipped on Guinness — the horse and Armstrong finally had their special moment in the Royal York lobby.
“It’s history,” Armstrong said afterward. “We’re here, we’re in, it’s the 100th anniversary. Couldn’t ask for a better day for the committee and myself.”
Hotel spokesman Kerry Ann Kotani said additional time allowed them to better prepare.
“Keeping the tradition alive but we had to make sure it was done in a safe and controlled environment,” she said.
The Canadian Football League announced Thursday the Stampeders’ touchdown horse Quick Six and rider Karyn Drake will be allowed to stand in the northeast corner of Rogers Centre for Sunday’s Grey Cup match against the hometown Toronto Argonauts — but not run along the sidelines.
“It will not be able to gallop up and down the sideline, due to a lack of available space and resulting safety concerns,” a CFL statement said.