Really, what else is better, after clocking out from work on a Friday, than hitting the pub for some pints?
Those were the plans of nearly 350 attendees of the brand new Great Canadian Pub Night held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Friday in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.
Guests happily ditched nylons and neckties for the comfortable combo of flannel shirts and jeans.
The ICC ballroom, where fancy black-tie dinners are a regular thing, offered a welcoming and cosy atmosphere that night. The venue resembled a large public house, which is often the social hub of smaller communities. There was pub food and drinks, along with a variety of games, televised sports on giant screens, chalkboard menus, bar stools and tables, and candles and soft lighting.
“We wanted to do something that’s never been done before,” Marci Groper, chair of the all-female planning committee, told OBJ.social. “We wanted it to be a fun, low-key night with friends, but that’s also supporting the kids.”
They hit the bull's eye, as they say in the pub dart league. The turnout was much greater than anyone expected and partygoers seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, as they soaked up the casualness of the evening.
The event's top sponsor was Gary Zed’s Treehouse family advisory firm. Zed, who is a long-time board member with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, is also a family office advisor with KPMG LLP.
Groper was joined on the committee by volunteers Krista Barban, Kathryn Faught, Cindy Harrison, Trish Kavanagh, Lynda Kurylowicz, Kris McGinn, Dana McPhail and Judi Mousseau.
McGinn arrived a little later, toting a more casual pair of clothes to change into. She’d come straight from the Best Ottawa Business Awards (The BOBs). She’s the COO and co-owner of Assurance Home Care, which was one of this year’s award recipients.
There was great local entertainment, with both Dave Kalil, Tyler Kealey and Todd Huckabone from the Ottawa Duelling Pianos Show, and Little Bones, which is a Tragically Hip tribute band. At one point, its lead singer Dan Hilts wandered through the crowd while belting out the words to Poets. Why, he was still singing while pausing to play a bit of foosball.
The evening was emceed by radio morning show host Jeff Hopper from Ottawa's Pure Country 94.
Spotted in the crowd were BGCO executive director Colleen Mooney and the chair of its board, Stephen Beckta, owner of the Beckta dining & wine and its sister restaurants, Play and Gezellig.
Sponsors included Pawan Dilawri, president of Dilawri Auto Group, Laurin General Contractor owner Dennis Laurin, Gentry Capital president Steve Barban, BFL Canada, represented by Ottawa branch vice president John Bethune, and Allegra Marketing Print Mail owner Walter McGinn, among others. Members of the Sohal family, which co-owns the Infinity Convention Centre,were also out supporting the cause.
Organizers brought some East Coast flavour to the night, particularly with the Kiss The Cod photo booth. The deceased and frozen fish, named Morty, was actually a tuna (not that anybody noticed, or cared) from the nearby T&T Supermarket.
There were some short speeches, but not many. The bidding on silent auction items was all done by mobile phone.
The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa provides safe spaces where children and youth can participate in enriching programs, engage with role models, make new friends, and develop essential life skills. Each year, some 4,500 kids in our city take advantage of the free programs and services offered at the seven clubhouses located in areas where children are at-risk and vulnerable to negative influences. It also runs a summer camp near Eganville.
All the beer came from Flora Hall Brewing in Ottawa while the wine was donated by Wayne Gretzky Estates. The vodkow — produced with cow’s milk — was courtesy of Almonte-based Dairy Distillery.
The food stations included fish and chips, poutine, donairs, Alberta beef sliders, pan-seared perogies, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts and Saskatoon berry tarts.
“We wanted to celebrate Canada,” explained Groper, whose husband, Mark Groper, is on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. He’s also the president and CEO of Orion Biotechnology Canada.