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Whiteout street party takes off – Winnipeg Free Press

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The first Whiteout celebration of the 2023-2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs is underway, marking the start of the Winnipeg Jets’ postseason championship chase.

By mid-afternoon, hundreds of fans had already gathered downtown in support of the city’s National Hockey League team, with many having high hopes for the local club that equaled several franchise records with its performances this year.

The Jets open their best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche at 6 p.m. at the Canada Life Centre.

TYLER SEARLE / FREE PRESS Hundreds of fans dressed in white filled the streets of downtown Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon ahead of the first game of the Winnipeg Jets - Colorado Avalanche play-off match in the 2024 Stanley Cup championship.

TYLER SEARLE / FREE PRESS Hundreds of fans dressed in white filled the streets of downtown Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon ahead of the first game of the Winnipeg Jets – Colorado Avalanche play-off match in the 2024 Stanley Cup championship.

“As long as we skate hard, have passion, have heart. We’ll take the series,” said season ticket holder Ron Huzar, who stopped by True North Square to watch the start of the playoff festivities.

Like other fans, Huzar and his wife, Tannis Buzza, wore all white during a show of support for the Winnipeg Jets.

The pair said they won’t be intimidated by the opposing Avalanche team despite their pedigree as former Stanley Cup champions during the 2021-2022 season.

“(The Jets) are going to win the series in four straight games,” Buzza joked.

True North Sports & Entertainment organizes the downtown street parties that have become a trademark of the home team’s playoffs. The Whiteout has now passed through downtown five times (and in two consecutive years) since the franchise returned to Winnipeg in 2011.

The 5,000-person event – ​​hosted on Donald Street between Portage and Graham Avenues, and at the Metropolitan Entertainment Center – requires a $10 admission fee and features alcohol and food vendors and three huge screens so fans at street level can watch the live broadcast of the can watch the game.

The parties are held during every Jets home game, with the next one scheduled for Tuesday night. Tickets for Sunday and Tuesday’s event are sold out, with $5 of each $10 ticket sold being donated to United Way Winnipeg.

The Party in the Plaza also returned to True North Square for a second year. Tickets there cost $20 and capacity was limited to 1,000.

All 15,321 seats at the Canada Life Center were sold out.

“If you put 10,000 tickets on sale and they sell out in an hour, then you have your answer to why we’re doing this,” Kevin Donnelly, TNSE senior vice president of venues and entertainment, said of the Whiteout celebrate.

“The fans – the community – love this event, they love the opportunity to be part of something that is unique, special and kind of wild.”

Planning for Sunday’s Whiteout celebration, and all others to follow, began “in earnest” in February, Donnelly said.

After five years, the team behind the event has learned a few tricks about planning and preparation. Support from the provincial and municipal governments, as well as Winnipeg Transit and the city’s various emergency services, has made the process easier, Donnelly said.

“It’s a matter of taking the template we have and making incremental changes to make it better for the customers, organizers and employees,” he said. “The special difference is that everyone has seen it before… we don’t have to convince people that this is something we should do. They come to the table ready and enthusiastic.”

About 150 people would help staff the event, TNSE previously said, including Winnipeg police, emergency medical technicians and other security and service personnel.

WPS spokesperson Cst. Claude Chancy noted that officers were on site and visible, supporting the home team wearing event-issued Whiteout WPS baseball caps.

“As with previous years’ events, we do not anticipate any issues and hope fans can enjoy the festivities safely,” Chancy said in an emailed statement.

A Royal Canadian Air Force advisory noted two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. will fly over Canada Life Center and the Whiteout crowd shortly after puck drop.

“The aircraft will fly over the arena at an altitude of not less than 150 meters above the highest obstacle on their route. Flybys involving RCAF aircraft are carefully planned and closely monitored for public safety, and are subject to weather and flight conditions,” RCAF spokesperson Major Mathew Strong said in a news release on Friday.

“The RCAF is proud to participate in national sporting events such as this, with flybys that allow us to demonstrate the capabilities of our personnel and aircraft to Canadians.”

Canada’s National Weather Service also issued a statement in support of the Jets, with a cheeky advisory on Sunday morning calling for a “Whiteout” in downtown Winnipeg.