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West Kelowna prepares for announcement of Hockeyville winner

Four months ago, a small committee tossed out an idea: West Kelowna is Hockeyville.

Several residents and local dignitaries got on board with the suggestion and the momentum started to grow. Since then, it hasn't stopped.

This Saturday, West Kelowna will find out if it is Kraft Hockeyville 2012.

"We're anxious, nervous and excited," said West Kelowna Hockeyville co-chair Adam Less.

"Win or lose, we've done all that we can do. We're proud of the effort that we've made. . .at this point, it's a win for us either way. . .we'll obviously be a lot happier if we win."

Although there are five communities in the running for the Hockeyville crown, West Kelowna and Stirling-Rawdon, ON, are heavy favourites.

In the first round of voting, Stirling-Rawdon earned over 1.3 million votes; West Kelowna brought in just over 1 million votes.

But Less is optimistic that Saturday's announcement might be different than the results from the first round of voting.

"You never want to speculate, but we have a lot of support out here. We reached out throughout the province and beyond.

"Traditionally in these things, the second round of voting tends to draw more votes than the first round. We were behind Stirling, but in the whole scheme of things, not by that much.

"We're hopeful that we reached enough people and created enough of a stir that we passed them on the final stretch."

Several events and activities are being planned for Saturday's announcement at Royal LePage Place. CBC will be broadcasting live throughout the day up until the final announcement.

The day will kick off with a free Kraft pancake breakfast in the Royal LePage courtyard from 8 to 10 a.m.

At 10 a.m. a Novice hockey exhibition game will be played, followed by an Atom level hockey skills camp conducted by former NHL player, Bobby Holik.

According to Less, each of the top five Hockeyville communities will be visited by an NHL alumni player on Saturday.

"Bobby Holik was designated for us. We thought it would be kind of fun to have him do a skills camp for the kids."

At 1 p.m., the rink will be opened up for family public skating. At 2:45 p.m., firefighters will face off against local members of the media in a hockey game.

According to Less, Holik will also be the coach of Team Media.

At 4 p.m., there will be a tailgate party outside the arena. This will allow crews to install the dry floor in Royal LePage Place for the evening broadcast.

Less said that there will also be various attractions set up all day long such as a bouncy house, crafts, hockey related displays and games, Hockeyville merchandise for sale and live music performances.

Finally, at 7 p.m., the Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames game will be broadcasted inside the arena. The Kraft Hockeyville winner will be announced during the first intermission, around 7:45 p.m.

Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. for the game.

Several local celebrities will be on hand for the game and Less said that B.C. Premier Christy Clark is expected to be among the VIP members in attendance.

Less is hoping as many community members as possible take in the event.

"We want to get everybody out there. This has become more than just a West Kelowna campaign. This, to some extent, has become an Okanagan campaign, and even, to some extent, become a B.C. campaign."

Less said that Saturday will be "the biggest celebration of West Kelowna's history."

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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