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Onrait: Great times in Amherst, a poodle in Paradise

Jay Onrait
8/30/2009 3:27:18 PM
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The Kraft Celebration Tour continued its winding road through The Maritimes with a stop in Amherst, Nova Scotia on Saturday night. It's hard to believe that "The East Crew" has completed four of our five stops on the trek.
 
Amherst is a small community of about 10-thousand people near the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border. Filled with massive and beautiful Victorian homes that cost less than my one bedroom condo in Toronto, it's the kind of place that makes you think you might want to quit the rat race and try to open up a Lobster Roll Shack.
 
Aside from being home to four of the 23 Fathers of Confederation, Amherst is also the birthplace of Canadian indie singer-songwriter and all-around style icon Leslie Feist. Yes, to all you Calgarians I am aware that the 1,2,3,4 Girl grew up mostly in your city. Nothing wrong with Westerners and Easterners sharing the credit for producing such fantastic talent.
 
Amherst garnered by far the most votes of any city on the Tour, over 168,000 of them. They also closed down Main Street so that our crew could put the stage up and the promotional team from Kraft could set up the barbeques. A young Amherst couple was even scheduled to get married at the local Church right next to our set-up and they couldn't have been more accommodating, especially considering we were infringing on their special day. We decided to incorporate them into the show by staging a wedding where Dan gave away the bride, Sara. Meanwhile I performed the ceremony wearing a crown and what appeared to be one of Jeff Lebowski's three robes (Make that two "Big Lebowski" references in our Tour Blogs so far). Thanks to you Devin and Sara, you're more than welcome to name your first child after me or Dan.
 
Much like our other stops on the tour the crowd was outstanding, the weather however, not so much. It was basically torrential rains throughout our broadcast and yet, a good-sized crowd still turned out in their rain gear and umbrellas to prove just how passionate this small community is (there's that word again... community). The $25-thousand dollar cheque from Kraft will go right to the Amherst YMCA.
 
The show went smoothly and so did the crowd-surfing. O'Toole even managed to avoid diving in face first this time (don't ever say this man is not a fast learner). But unquestionably the funniest and most-entertaining part of the show for Dan, myself and the entire East Crew was when TSN Montreal Bureau Chief and all-around style icon John Lu showed up. John's wife has family in the area and he happened to be visiting. So he stopped by, climbed up on stage and dove into the crowd right after Dan and I did.

It was priceless. The crowd loved it. John Lu is a true Maritimer.
 
Our director, Andy Bouyoukos also arranged to have a cake brought on to the set for my birthday! What a guy! But before the entire crew could enjoy some delicious cake, the set had to be torn down after the show. No problem right? Sure, if the skies are sunny.
 
Unfortunately the rain never let up for hours after our broadcast was over, and the boys were stuck packing up all the gear while getting completely soaked. They hardly complained. Our Technical Director Ken McAndrews pointed out that "it's still better than minus 40."
 
I just can't say enough about how much Dan and I love these guys on our crew (and one girl, Devin Mandeville our Production Manager, poor thing). Not only are they an absolute treat to socialize with in any setting, including the Rock of Love Bus, but they are also tireless workers and true professionals who make me appreciate how easy I have life as a "Poodle."
 
What's a Poodle you ask? That would be the term that every television crew member uses to describe the talent, which in this case would be Dan and myself. As we made our descent into St. John's, Newfoundland this morning for our last stop of the tour in the bedroom community of Paradise, one of our crew members, Graham, turned around in his seat and said to me.
 
"How do you feel about being a Poodle in Paradise?"
 
Pretty good. Pretty... pretty... pretty... good.




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