It was February of 1984 when the St. Albert Curling Club rolled out the red carpet for the Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
It was a big deal back in the day and according to club historian Vera Neveu everything went as smooth as ice.
“Everybody was quite happy with it definitely,” said Neveu, a volunteer at the six-team competition.
“We had lots of volunteers, that’s for sure. The St. Albert Curling Club is known for its volunteers,” she added. “Shirley Fisher was the chairperson and when Shirley did things, she did it right always, so we just did what Shirley said we needed to do.”
Curling was as popular then as it is now in St. Albert.
“The curling club was doing very well member wise. They had leagues full, much like it is today,” Neveu said. “Curling was big then and it wasn’t the professional curlers of today. It was just the ordinary every day average league curler that attended and got involved with it.”
This year the Alberta Scotties returns to St. Albert and Jiffy Lube is the title sponsor for the 12-team competition Jan. 25 to 29.
“It’s wonderful it’s here again,” Neveu said. “It gives us such good exposure.”
Neveu is confident fans will pack the stands like it was 1984 again.
“They had a good turnout that year and most of these events do bring good turnouts and the (provincial) curling association probably wouldn’t put it somewhere where there wouldn’t be.”
One of the highlights was the opening ceremonies.
“That was exciting. Something like that always is. It gets you going,” said Neveu, one of the flag bearers in the opening ceremony picture from the 1984 event.
The legendary Hec Gervais is also in the picture as one of the dignitaries.
This year’s ceremonial first rock will feature Ruby Shanley, one of the oldest standing members at the club, holding the broom and delivering the rock is Emily Clark, skip for the St. Albert finalists at the 2016 provincial U18 juvenile championships.
The sweepers are Addison Hafso and Aubrey Kennedy of the St. Albert Little Rocks program.
The opening ceremonies are Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m., leading up the evening draw at 6:30 p.m.
The Sunday, Jan. 29 semifinal and final will be broadcast on Sportsnet and the winner advances to the 2017 Canadian Scotties, Feb. 18 to 26 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont.
The 1984 provincial champion was the Connie Bennet rink of Mavis Roland, Judy Carr and Betty Clarke from the North Hill Curling Club of Calgary.
Bennet defeated the Della Thorpe rink of Karen Gould, Heather Moore and Janet Gummer from Grande Prairie in a playoff after both teams finished 4-1 in the round robin.
At the Canadian Scotties, Bennet was 4-6 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Neveu, 78, plans to have a front row seat for this year’s Alberta Scotties.
“I’m excited for it to start,” said the Morinville resident who hung up her curling shoes two years ago because of minor health issues.
Neveu threw her first rock in the St. Albert rink in 1962.
“Jackie Rae Greening’s mother welcomed me at the door. I was only 23 years old,” said Neveu of Betty Anderson, one of 13 honorary life members at the club. “She was always so nice to everybody and so pleasant. She made me feel very comfortable at that curling club.”
Neveu served in several capacities at the club, including a 20-year stint as secretary and six years as a director, and also assisted with the junior program and held a variety of positions with the St. Albert Ladies Curling Club while it was still in existence.
“Curling is a great sport. I love it.”
Meanwhile, $100 full event packages for the Alberta Scotties, including single general admission tickets to each of the 12 draws, are available online only through www.stalbertcurling.com until Jan. 15.
For one day only, full event packages can be purchased at the door Jan. 25.
Also, single draw tickets will only be available at the door approximately one hour prior to the start of each draw.
Prices are $10 for draws one to eight and $20 for draws nine to 12.
Youths under the age of 12 are free when accompanied by an adult ticketholder.
Admission is also free for the Friday and Saturday night entertainment supplied by RAVE ON in the Friendly Giant Lounge.
Sunday’s pancake breakfast at 10 a.m. is free as well with a ticket to the 11 a.m. semifinal.
Visit www.2017jiffylubealbertascotties.com for updates on the Alberta Scotties.