Thursday, April 28, 2011

KISS Rocking Canada Day Celebrations


Legendary rock group KISS will be centre stage July 2 as the closing headliner of the three-day Canada Rocks Canada Day celebrations.

And Fort McMurray is the only Alberta stop on the band's summer tour.

Events Wood Buffalo and MacDonald Island Park — the venue for all the concerts and festivities — unveiled all the details of the headlining events Tuesday.

Some 10,000 tickets will be sold for KISS, ranging in price from $99 for general admission to $250 each for VIP tickets. Box office opens noon May 6.

"We expect those tickets to go very, very fast," predicted EWB executive director Claude Giroux, decked out in his finest Gene Simmons leather.

"MacDonald Island Park and Events Wood Buffalo teaming together with the entire community to present the biggest show on earth right here in Fort McMurray," he raved.

Events Wood Buffalo has been around now for a couple of years, mused Giroux explaining how the special events agency was able to contract such a band as KISS.

"I've spent a lot of time on the phone talking to a lot to agents about a lot of different shows and we knew this year we really wanted to bring a big, big show, a big A-list type show up to the community and this one just kind of came together for us."

While the location on MacIsland will be the same as last year's Barenaked Ladies show, the set-up will be very different because the stage is almost three times as large.

Additional highlights as outlined by Paul McWilliams, MacIsland's director of advancement — who noted the event is history in the making for the region — include Canadian rockers Chilliwack performing a free concert on June 30. Also, east coast band The Navigators will be headlining in the Celtic concert series slated for Canada Day. Tickets are $19 for general admission and $30 for the VIP seats.

For all concert tickets call 780-791-0070 or visit

And in keeping with tradition, fireworks set to music will light up the Fort McMurray sky midnight June 30 to usher in Canada Day.

Events to mark Canada's 144th birthday include the annual community parade, children's activities and the multi-cultural food pavilion.

Giroux acknowledged all the partnerships that came into place to make the Canada Rocks celebrations a reality.

"You can't do anything like this without the help of so many people. It would take a really long time for me to thank everybody, but I can tell you the municipality is definitely a major reason we're able to do this," he said. "The partnership between Events Wood Buffalo and MacDonald Island Park to co-present this is very, very key. With generous companies like Aluma Systems and Hertz Rentals to provide some of the infrastructure and the support that we need, is absolutely key to our success. Then, of course, some of the sponsors that step up to the plate every year to support this community and the events that we do is very important."

Coun. Russell Thomas, event co-chairman along with Coun. Mike Allen, echoed Giroux saying such an event couldn't happen "without a whole lot of people in the background making it happen.
"We are very honoured to have a tremendous team who have put their names forward to make this incredible event ... possible."

Allen added "this is Wood Buffalo. We have the biggest regional municipality in Canada. So we've got a big region, we've got big oil, big industry, big sprit and now we've got a big concert.
"This is a huge event for the community," he said.

With concerts of this magnitude traditionally happening in cities such as Edmonton, Vancouver or Toronto, Allen said that if a Fort McMurray couple travelled out of town to one of those locations, they could rack up anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 for travel, food, accommodation and souvenirs plus the concert tickets.

"We're hosting this right here in Fort McMurray so not only is it a big concert, huge opportunity, but it's great value for the citizens and those that are going to come and get a chance to experience Wood Buffalo for the very first time."

Peter Snook, chairman of Fort McMurray Tourism, expects the concert will draw crowds from across western Canada.

"We're really pleased to be able to showcase the community. We will be partnering with many of our members to provide packages, event tickets, accommodations and other enhancements to ensure that our guests experience in Wood Buffalo is premium, safe, extremely exciting and memorable. Our goal is to increase the visibility and accessibility to the tourism marketplace."

He added this event provides an opportunity for Fort McMurray Tourism and this region to showcase "incredible hospitality and the big spirit."