You may hard this find to believe about a person who does most of his work electronically and writes about hockey from the comfort of his laptop, but I'm a pretty introverted person, deep down. Doing events and being "On!" for work, games, events, dinner, or whatever is a lot of fun, most of the time, but there comes a point, especially after we pulled off such a big event as this year's Cannonfest, where I just need to recharge my batteries for a day or two before I can put my mental energy into trying to capture it in words.
(In the mean time, you may have seen that I was beaten to the punch by the good lads over at the Dark Blue Jacket as far as words, and by Ken Falk's as-usual excellent photography over at BS Hockey. (and a special thanks to Ken for letting me use a few of his photos for this post!))
I think - or at least dearly hope - that for most people, the highlights were Sonny Milano's surprise appearance, or perhaps Jeff Rimmer's arrival to talk about his
recent encounter with Florida wildlife anticipation and hopes for the coming season. That they enjoyed Shane Gullifoyle's three awesome videos (this one was my personal fave!), or just had a great afternoon talking to some of the ~400 people who showed up last Sunday afternoon.
(And of course I am sure a few people enjoyed the exclusive beer from the guys over at Four String Brewing!)
For me, though, the highlight is, and has been, that it exists. That we, as fans of our hockey club, can bring together so many people during the deadest part of the dead offseason, and make something so great happen.
Usually I try to give people an idea of the fundraising we accomplished during the event as well, but because of the complexities of raising money for three different charities and the sheer amount of donations, that's still being sorted out - but I feel comfortable saying that just as the event got bigger, so did the generosity and enthusiasm of Jackets Fans. When all is said and done, I suspect the bar will have been raised yet again, and you all need to be thanked for making that possible.
When I talked to Matt and Sam for their Union Blue Radio podcast, I half jokingly asked if we can say that Cannonfest has a legacy when we're still doing it - but on reflection, I think the truth is that it does. We've established a wonderful and unique experience that's become part of Columbus fandom - something that's truly ours. People have formed friendships there. People have decided to get more involved with the community there. People have found connections that they otherwise were missing there. I'm proud of that - and as things go on, I hope that will just continue to grow.
I did my best to thank the folks at Dick's Last Resort (Columbus), Greg, Alison, the Jacket Backers, Four String, the CBJ Artillery, DKM Hockey, the Union Blue Soldiers, Monsters' Jackets, Shane, John Wooten, Ashley Ware, Mike Todd, Dave Maetzold, and the other volunteers and helper-outers who helped make everything a success before everyone went out into the wild, but I have to say it again: Thank you all. This doesn't happen without you. This wouldn't be as good without you. Every year it gets a little different, and each year someone brings something new and wonderful to the table.
I cannot tell you how much it means to me to see so many people enjoying what we've done. I can only tell you how much I'm looking forward to what the future brings.
For now, it's time to turn our eyes to the rink - the summer, at last, is coming to a close. Skates are being sharpened. Sticks are being taped.
Hockey is back, and with all the excitement around the Jackets this offseason, it couldn't come soon enough!
Here's to you, Jackets fans - and here's to the 2015-2016 season, too.