Tim Hortons Brier features plenty of wild hats

Joe Pavia, Ottawa Sun Curling Columnist

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Ron Casey

Ron Casey, father of P.E.I. skip Adam Casey, is the leader of the Potato Patch at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Jean Levac, Postmedia Network)

Hats are normal. At the Brier, hats are special.

Anyone can have a baseball cap but only a few people wear a lobster hat well.

Sue MacLeod from PEI and her friend Lynda Howell from Saskatoon were resplendent with crustaceans on their heads on Monday at the Tim Hortons Brier at TD Place.

Howell has never been to a Brier. Her friend Sue told her “You got to get a lobster hat and come to the Brier with me.” So they are here and also volunteering.

Howell explained that they submitted their names last May to volunteer in the Patch but the staffing was complete. They subsequently got jobs selling 50-50 tickets.

Both paid to come to Ottawa. Both are paying for their accommodation. Both are volunteering. Why? Howell said, “Cause it’s a fun way to meet people.”

MacLeod said 50-50 tickets aren’t a tough sell.

“We could have sold many here today,” she said. “They were really popular.”

To put the clarified butter on the lobster, neither MacLeod nor Howell curl. “I don’t have a clue,” laughed Howell.

The real PEI cheering section, however, was the 44-person-strong Potato Patch. Their leader is Ron — the father of skip Adam Casey.

“We just wanted to have some fun. So we got some Anne of Green Gables hats and some bells and some noise and (the group is) just trying to have fun and enjoy the curling,” Ron Casey said.

While some of the contingent returned home Monday, they are still a vocal presence in TD Place, many times causing both the players and TSN crew to laugh out loud.

“I think the players enjoyed it. I think they get a few kicks out of it. It’s all for fun,” chuckled Casey.

Kyle Heyligen, from Ottawa, is sitting with the Potatoes. “I’m sitting here because Team PEI is awesome. Ron Casey is the loudest.”

Did beer play a part in his donning the chapeau? “A little bit, maybe. Let me put it this way. I wouldn’t wear this hat if it weren’t. I thought it might bring them luck.”

Smack dab in the middle of the arena, the Sou’westers stood out. But Nova Scotia didn’t survive the qualifying round.

Cyril McCormick said, “The distinction is that the Newfoundland sou’westers have a Newfoundland flag on them. They (the Nova Scotians) pick up the hats in Newfoundland and rub off the flag along the way.”

He’s at the draw cheering on Brad Gushue’s squad with his wife of 54 years, Julie, and their son-in-law from Ottawa — Russel Shearer.

“Oh yeah the hats brought them luck,” Shearer said. “The hats, bought in Newfoundland, were the big deciding factor in these games for sure, no question.”

The biggest hat in the group was a large, felt blue tinged hat scattered with many, many Newfoundland hats. When asked if the hat was called a sou’wester, Cyril deadpanned “It’s a Newfoundland flag hat.”

Although the head apparel might be worn to add a festive feeling to the arena, some hat wearers were much too engaged in the games to talk. A couple of rows of Saskatchewan fans wearing green everywhere — ribbons, cowboy hats, light blinking green berets, even green fingernails and green hair (being twisted and fingered) — during Saskatchewan’s tight game were all disappointed when they lost to Newfoundland.

One person’s hat head is another person’s headache.

The Highlight of the Day

Shots. They just keep getting better and better. Every draw.

The Good

A CBC French crew interviewed PEI’s Robbie Doherty after the 2:30 draw. He spoke French. The day before, Team Canada’s John Morris also did an interview in French.

The Bad

The weather is turning warm.

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Joe Pavia – Owner/Operator

The Hogline Curlers Proshop is owned and operated by an experienced curler - Joe Pavia.


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While Joe knows many renowned curlers, he’s most at home serving club curlers, rookies, children, youth and senior curlers who might not want to shop but just want to chat about the game we all love.

Joe has been involved with the curling world for decades as a player, organizer and curling commentator. He’s the weekly curling columnist for the Ottawa Sun where his Wednesday column is eagerly anticipated and is indeed available across the country. 

15questions Ottawa Youth Curling League


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