Calgary Stampeders fans were allowed to bring a horse into the Fairmont Royal York Hotel lobby after all.
They were first denied entry Thursday morning, but officials later relented so the horse and rider made it into the lobby at 2 p.m. to huge cheers.
Earlier in the day, Marty, a horse from Stouffville, Ont., rode through a throng of cameramen and reporters onto the red carpet at around 10:15 a.m. but was denied entry.
The media frenzy was such that fans who came out to see the horse were temporarily blocked from the horse.
Fletcher Armstrong, co-chairman of the Calgary Grey Cup Committee, said earlier that even though the hotel barred the horse, that wasn’t going to stop him.
“We’re still working on it,” Armstrong said in the morning. “We’ve got to get in there, it’s tradition.”
Every time the Stampeders are in the Grey Cup, fans take a horse through a hotel lobby in the host city, a tradition started in Toronto at the Royal York in 1948.
With the crowd chanting “let us in,” Marty got his nose onto the doors of the Royal York, but hotel staff locked the doors and didn’t budge.
“We were within a nose of going in!” Armstrong said.
In a news release Thursday morning, the hotel cited health and safety concerns, for the horse as well as the guests, in making the decision to keep the horse from entering the building.
Paul Andersen flew in from Red Deer, Alta., on Thursday morning and came out to see if a horse could get into the posh Royal York hotel again.
He said he was disappointed they weren’t successful at first, considering the benevolent nature of the stunt.
“Nobody gets hurt, it’s just a fun thing to do, but we’re still having a fun morning following it around.”
Shouting “Yahoo, Calgary!,” Armstrong and Marty, followed by a group of cowboy-hat wearing Stamps faithful, trotted west down Front St., eventually making their way up University Ave. and towards the Bank of Montreal in First Canadian Place, where the horse was invited to visit.
Inside the bank, Paul Deegan, vice-president of the Bank of Montreal, also got a chance to sit on the horse.
“It was really nice of them to invite us,” said Phil Langdon, the other co-chairman of the Calgary Grey Cup committee, who came in to relieve Armstrong of his riding duties.
Deegan said the idea to invite the horse to the bank came after hearing about the reluctance of Royal York officials to allow a horse into its lobby.
“We had to first locate the horse, which was a little bit of a challenge at first, but we’re just delighted everyone from Calgary could be here today,” he said.
When asked if they had accounted for concerns Marty would make a “deposit” in the building, Deegan said they were prepared to deal with that.
“I think if it makes a deposit, there is a way to make a withdrawal too,” he said
Throughout the morning, cheers of “Go Stamps Go” met chants of “Argoooos,” but that’s as heated as the rivalry got.
Marty trotted around the bank and schmoozed with the employees, even getting a chance to go up to the tellers.
Marty’s owner is the son of the man who gave Calgary fans the horse back in 1948.
Officials also announced Thursday afternoon that a horse could be on the sidelines at Rogers Centre for the Grey Cup on Sunday.
The Stamps’ famous horse Quick Six, which charges down the sidelines each time the team scores a touchdown at McMahon Stadium, has not arrived in Toronto.