In years when the Winter Olympics are held, the NHL suspends league play for the two-week period of the games to allow players from NHL teams who have been selected to represent their countries the opportunity to play. But the NHL schedule remains at 82 games so there is a need to do some serious condensing to fit them all in, lest the playoffs run through until July, and frankly even the most avid hockey fan needs a bit of down-time. This results in teams having some weeks during which they play four games, a wee bit taxing on the body.
With Montreal apparently in the icy grips of a never-ending winter, our summer is looking like an NHL Olympic year schedule that will have to be condensed as well. To that end I have some suggestions for a shortened Montreal summer.
1) Combine the Tour de l’Île with the Formula One Grand Prix
The traffic snarls caused by thousands of tourists converging on the city for the Grand Prix each June are epic. While the street closures to accommodate the annual bicycle event give motorists nightmares. Let’s run the two events together on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. To give it a real Montreal feel the cyclists should go against the flow of traffic – there being no sidewalks for them to use – and, when sworn at, give drivers the finger.
2a) Festivals will have to overlap – take one
Montreal is known as a city of festivals, so we could combine the Jazz, Francofolies and Blues Fests into one event that features a variety of sad songs in at least two languages.
2b) Festivals will have to overlap – take two
We can also merge the Comedy Festival – Just For Laughs, with the Film Festival and have a festival of nothing but funny movies.
3) Close all streets for construction
Another, albeit less enjoyable, event is the annual construction carnival. With all these other festivals running concurrently and the usual summer road work still much needed, we may as well just close all the streets in the downtown area. Those who often lobby for a huge pedestrian mall will be pleased. Motorists will be peeved, but they’re going to be anyway!
4) Back to school sales and construction holiday
Before leaving on their annual vacation period during the last two weeks in July, construction workers will be able to take advantage of back to school sales.
5) Canada Day and St. Jean Baptiste celebrations combined
As I write this we are still in the midst of a very ugly provincial election campaign that has seen more mud slung than a Spring Break Wet T-shirt/Mud Wrestling contest. Depending on the outcome, we may be looking at the possibility of combining the provincial holiday, St. Jean Baptiste (Fête nationale) with Canada Day. Those thinking the parade may degenerate into a reenactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham should consider that with a little luck maybe we can throw in a Stanley Cup Parade as well, which always makes everyone happy!
So these are just a few suggestions to facilitate the cramming of all Montreal’s summer events into a weather-shortened season. Even if the warm weather, assuming it ever arrives, should last into November in an attempt by Mother Nature to even things up, it’s just not the same; that feeling of “down-time” doesn’t linger past Labor Day, regardless of the weather. So we have to make the most of whatever comes our way in June, July and August. Now bring it on!