Back alley hockey viewing parties fun and safe for Kitsilano neighbours

·2 min read

Residents in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood are heading outdoors to watch the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It's another example of how people are trying to find a sense of normal during the global pandemic by being together, yet staying physically distant.

Aaron Andersen and his family helped set up an outdoor hockey viewing space in a back alley when NHL hockey started up again at the end of July.

"We were watching the first game with the family and thought, yeah I know the neighbours are next door watching inside as well, why don't we all find a place to get together," he said.

Andersen says he spoke with some neighbours and they arranged to view the next game in the alleyway joining their homes.

He offered a couch and television, others brought their chairs and couches, and the children came out with their hockey sticks for a game of pick-up.

The couches were set apart from each other. Three of the participating families share a bubble, while others were seated apart or wearing masks.

"It's definitely better than sitting at home by ourselves with our family, because we can cheer with our friends and neighbours, and we can feel like we're doing our part by staying apart but by still coming together and cheering for the Canucks," said Andersen's wife Robin.

Neighbour Ken Andersen, who brings his son to the viewing parties, says it's a great way to socialize.

"Getting together with a bunch of friends to watch the hockey game is a lot of fun. It's a Canadian experience. But going to the bars right now you have to be in groups of six, can't have your kids there.

"Having people inside you're all sharing the same air, so being outside means we can have the fresh air, we can just be a little safer, and enjoy the games."

Alley concert series

Finding unique ways to socialize is nothing new for this neighbourhood. In April, after weeks of being homebodies, the neighbours decided to organize a concert in the alley.

"A lot of us really love live music, but of course with bars closed and theatres closed there's no chance to see live music in the pandemic," said Aaron Andersen.

Aaron Anderson
Aaron Anderson

He says the neighbourhood pooled some money together and reached out to local artists.

"We've now hosted six concerts, and really tried to help local artists who wouldn't otherwise have a place to perform."

With neighbours watching from outside their garages, Andersen says they've welcomed an Elvis impersonator, children's musician Will Stroet and Neil Diamond tribute act Nearly Neal, among others.

Andersen says the neighbourhood has another concert planned for the end of August, and the Canucks viewing parties will continue as long as the team stays in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.