Torch Relay Reporter Chris Wheeler comes to Edmonton

Today I had the pleasure of hosting Chris Wheeler, a video journalist capturing the Olympic Flame as it makes its way throughout the country. I was asked by EEDC a few weeks ago if I’d be interested in the opportunity, and I said absolutely. I love Edmonton and I love meeting new people, so it was good fit for me! EEDC regularly hosts travel media from around the world, something that most Edmontonians probably don’t know, but which absolutely makes sense to do.

DISCLOSURE: I got paid for my time today, but I am not getting paid for this blog post.

Chris is the iCoke Torch Relay Reporter, a project of Coca-Cola, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), and Tourism BC. This is the seventh time that Coca-Cola has sponsored the Olympic Torch Relay! So far the videos have been getting lots of views and Chris says that as he works his way west, the excitement is definitely building.

I started today by meeting Chris at the airport. He was in Saskatoon until very early this morning, and I quickly learned that the last 75 or so days of his life have consisted of “wake up, shoot footage all day, then edit/upload/sleep/travel”. It’s a grueling schedule, but one that Chris is passionate about!

Welcome to Edmonton

We first made our way to the new Art Gallery of Alberta, where we got a very brief tour amongst all the construction that is still going on. Chris interviewed AGA Board Chair Allan Scott, and I think was really amazed at how long he has been working to make the new AGA a reality for Edmonton. I’m very excited for the new AGA building, which officially opens on January 31, and I can’t wait to see it all finished!

Torch Reporter in Edmonton!

Next we walked to Blue Plate Diner for a quick lunch – tasty as always! It was really interesting to hear from Chris about the places he’s been on the trip, and some of the challenges he has faced along the way. One of the biggest, of course, is bandwidth. Chris shoots all his videos in high-definition, so even after editing and finalizing a video the files are still quite large, and hotels typically don’t have the fastest Internet. It’s pretty amazing that Chris has managed to continue posting new videos every few days!

Lunch at Blue Plate Diner

Our next stop was West Edmonton Mall, and more specifically, Sea Lions’ Rock. We didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out that Chris was able to get up close and personal with Pablo, the largest of the sea lions. Chris got to hug Pablo, and even got a big kiss! We also stayed for the scheduled show, something I haven’t seen in quite a while. It’s very entertaining, and is definitely something to check out at least once! Right after we left, Rick Mercer and Danielle Smith showed up for a shoot. Both Chris and I are RMR fans, but resisted the temptation to interrupt them.

Torch Reporter in Edmonton!

Torch Reporter in Edmonton!

Chris is in Edmonton all day tomorrow as well, filming the Torch Relay and related festivities (on ShareEdmonton). After that he’ll be on his way to other locations in Alberta and eventually, back to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Best of luck with the remainder of your trip Chris!

Thanks again to EEDC for the opportunity. You can see the rest of my photos from today here. Keep an eye on Chris’ YouTube channel for the Edmonton video, which should be up in a few days.

The Apple Store opens in West Edmonton Mall

This morning the brand new Apple Store in West Edmonton Mall finally opened. Sharon and I arrived at 9:15am, and found ourselves at the back of a line roughly 200 people long. A few of the people I talked to near the front of the line had been waiting since 6am, and apparently one guy camped out overnight. That’s the kind of dedication one would expect for the launch of an Apple Store.

Almost there!

As the grand opening time of 10am neared, the sales associates exited the store cheering and proceeded to run the length of the line, high-fiving everyone as they went. It was a nice way to say “thanks for waiting!” Eventually they opened the doors and started letting people in. Before we knew it we were entering the store, shaking hands with the greeters who continued to cheer. Each person received a little white box which contained a black T-shirt that reads “West Edmonton” with an Apple logo beside it. I was amazed that they just continued to let people in…there were probably fifty employees to begin with, so the place was just packed!

My first experience with an Apple Store was at the flagship outlet on Fifth Avenue in New York back in December. The WEM store is quite a bit smaller (and doesn’t have the wicked glass cube overtop) but it still contains all of the elements that I love about Apple Stores: free Wi-Fi, the Genius Bar, roaming sales clerks with wireless payment devices, and of course, lots of excellent Apple gadgets.

Grand OpeningLined up outside the Apple StoreInside the Apple StorePicture in PictureGenius BarT-Shirt Boxes

We hung around for a bit, used the free Wi-Fi, chatted with people we ran into, and eventually I bought a Universal iPod Dock (had to buy something!). They were still giving out free T-shirts when we left just after 11am. We’ll have to wait and see what effect, if any, the Apple Store has on Westworld Computers but either way I’m glad that Edmonton is now a “have” city.

There were lots of people with digital still and video cameras (lots of Flips actually) so it’s safe to say that the grand opening was well-documented. You can see all of my photos and videos of the grand opening here.

Happy Canada Day!

It’s almost tradition for me to wish readers Happy Canada Day now (2005, 2006, 2007). I’ve had a pretty relaxing day so far, even though I did do a little bit of work earlier. Sharon and I are going to head down toward the Legislature grounds pretty soon to see the waterfall, and of course, the fireworks.

I had been looking forward to visiting the brand new Apple Store at West Edmonton Mall today, but found out yesterday that the launch has been delayed until Saturday. I’m not sure where he read this, but Bruce Clarke says the first 1000 people through the door will receive a free Apple t-shirt.

Happy Canada Day!

Why July 2008 will be the greatest month ever

Is there any doubt that July is going to be the greatest month ever?

July 2008 will be the greatest month ever!

July 1: A brand new, 6000-square-foot Apple Store opens in West Edmonton Mall.
July 11: The iPhone 3G goes on sale in 22 countries, including Canada.
July 18: The movie I am most looking forward to this year is released: The Dark Knight

Oh yeah. July FTW!

Edmonton Rush Training Camp at WEM

Post ImageI watched some of the Edmonton Rush training camp today at West Edmonton Mall with my brother (and Kimmi too, though the lure of shopping was too great for her). Tom is a big lacrosse fan, so he was quite excited that he could check out the camp, though not so thrilled that the little kids got all the good stuff (like stickers). Wondering who the Edmonton Rush are? They’re our very own lacrosse team, and they play in the National Lacrosse League. They had a whole day of activities planned for today at WEM:

The Edmonton Rush will announce tomorrow, Saturday, November 26 at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace its player roster for the 2006 NLL Season. Players will be introduced to fans at 11:00 a.m. and following introductions the Rush will officially open its 2006 main training camp.

The roster of 23 players and 3 practice players has been built through trades, signing of talented free agents, draft picks and an open tryout camp in October.

I’ll definitely have to check out a game or two when the season starts after the holidays. Apparently they have a really good “dance team” too, cheerleaders!

Read: Edmonton Rush