One of the most relaxing half hours of life is when I sit down to watch the weekly Rick Mercer Report on television.
I enjoy this program greatly for a couple of reasons, one being its Canadian content and the other being Mercer himself. That impish grin, that look that tells you he is up to something and his rants that showcase thought-provoking opinions will always hold interest.
Several years ago I found his email address, penned a letter describing Griz Days and asked him to consider coming here to check out our festival.
I never heard back and so put it out of my mind. So when I received an email from Chamber manager Patty Vadnais asking that I call her because she had some good news regarding this year’s Griz Days the last thing I expected to hear was what she told me. “Rick Mercer is coming tomorrow to Griz Days”, to which I immediately replied, that is great, I wrote to him years ago and he never responded. Patty laughed and said, “Well, you must have done something because he said he had heard about this.”
It takes a lot to get me excited these days as we meet many remarkable people with the work council does however the thought idea of meeting Rick Mercer and having a photo opportunity was exciting.
On Saturday, I was called to appear and although in the middle of a conversation with my family I swiftly grabbed my cell phone, a couple of Fernie books to present to Mercer, threw on my coat and scarf, and sped off.
When I got to Station Square there he was, Patty introduced me and as I put out my hand I gushed “Rick Mercer, you are the only celebrity I have ever wanted to meet”.(very true) and without missing a beat, he shook my hand with that familiar impish look stated “ and you are the only mayor I have ever wanted to meet”.
It’s startling that when I meet someone that impresses me I turn from an adult into a child. And so I handed over the Fernie books and made a ridiculous statement.
“There is nothing really for free so now I will need payment, I will have to have a photo with you”. Mercer was very gracious, he responded by saying I would have that and more. I didn’t realize that what he meant was that he would be conducting an interview with me. But that is what he did, I don’t believe much of it will get into his program but it was fun and it lasted a while, I was captivated by his manner and friendliness to people that came and spoke to us while filming, he stopped to speak to children and have his photo taken several times. He was animated, funny and very charming. So much so that I hardly noticed the large crowd that had gathered around to watch. He was genuinely interested in our Griz lore, the Ghostrider legend and knowing a little about the history of Fernie.
In past years I have interviewed provincial premiers, members of the federal parliament and the provincial legislature from various parties. I have interviewed the ambassador of Costa Rica, mega hockey star Scott Niedermyer and Juno award winning gospel singer Kelita as well as many local people and visitors. Most sat in my kitchen and enjoyed coffee and conversation.
With more than thirty years of writing profiles for the local paper, online and the TV interviews seen on the local cable channel and accessible online I directed hundreds of dialogues but I must admit being on the opposite end is a different experience. It was very pleasant to have a celebrity like Mercer visit Fernie, for me it will be unforgettable!
Thank you Patty and chamber organizers for this lovely experience and thank you Rick Mercer, Michal and John for coming to Fernie.