TORONTO — In 1948, Calgary Stampeders’ fans paraded a horse into Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel during Grey Cup festivities. Yesterday, fans of the Calgary-based CFL team continued the time-honoured tradition at the Fairmont property — but not without some excitement.
Hotel management initially turned away Marty, a 15-year-old horse from Stouffville, Ont. But Mike Taylor, director, Public Relations, Royal York, says refusing the horse from entering the hotel in the morning was more about proper check-in times. “As all savvy travellers know, check-in time is always in the afternoon. We love to celebrate and take great pride in honouring tradition, so the hotel was very happy to welcome Marty and be part of this year’s Grey Cup festivities.”
Kerry Ann Kotani, regional director of Sales and Marketing, Royal York, said the property received backlash after refusing the animal entry yesterday at 10 a.m. “We were concerned about the animal’s welfare and the safety of our guests, so we asked for time to regroup, in order that we could properly welcome Marty later in the day, in a controlled environment.”
Some spur-of-the-moment planning gave hotel management time to consult with their legal department, insurance providers and the local police. A check-in yesterday at 2 p.m. was agreed upon and the horse — ridden by the co-chair of the Calgary Grey Cup Committee — entered the hotel off of Front Street amid cheers. “Everything ran smoothly, the horse was treated well here at the Fairmont, and he was officially signed in by placing his hoof print in our VIP guestbook,” said Kotani.
The Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders will compete for the 100th Grey Cup Sunday at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.