Residents and business throughout the community can now officially be ‘tickled pink’ following the announcement last Friday that Rimbey was declared the Pinkest Town in the West 2009 for the overwhelming support the community showed during this summer’s Wild Pink Yonder tour to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
“We could not believe what a job Rimbey did. It was absolutely excellent. It has set the bar very, very high for next year’s tour,” said trail boss Jane Hurl. “You blew everybody else out of the water in terms of money raised. The only other town that even came close in the ‘pink factor’ was Innisfail, which did a pretty good job in pink, but you guys were pinker.”
The tour, which was intended to retrace the route earlier pioneers and the North West Mounted Police took through Alberta, stopped in many communities along the way, but according to Hurl, it ended up a two-horse race with Rimbey winning by several lengths.
“There was quite a few communities that did the pink thing, but nobody did pink like Rimbey except Innisfail,” said Hurl, who was seriously injured in a fall from a wagon just prior to the beginning of the tour, “I didn’t see Innisfail myself because of course, I was injured and wasn’t traveling around much, but I absolutely insisted to my doctors that they let me out so I could go to Rimbey because I figured you guys were going to put on quite the show, and they reluctantly let me go. But they did not let me go earlier to Innisfail.”
In the case of the second-place finisher, Hurl said there were plans to build a new Co-op building in Innisfail, that has since been put on hold, however for a fundraising effort, the Co-op there offered a litre of pink paint and a roller for $10, and then encouraged to paint any part of the old building they wanted. As a result, the building now looks more like “one great big birthday cake”.
In appreciation of the winning effort put forth, Hurl said residents of Rimbey can now expect to reap the rewards of their work with two special prizes, the first of which will be a highway sign entering the community recognizing the win.
Hurl said organizer will soon be in touch with the Town of Rimbey to discuss specifications such as where exactly the sign will be placed, whether it will be attached to others or will be free-standing and what material it will be made of.
The other big prize will be a live musical concert featuring a country and western performer, however the jury is still out as to exactly who will be performing and when.
“The one detail your readers want is the one detail I can’t give you and that’s who’s going to be playing at the concert you won,” Hurl said. “We thought we had it all organized and put to bed, but the performer moved to Nashville on us.”
While she wouldn’t say exactly who that performer was, she quickly added that they’ve already contacted alternative acts and individuals, and determining when the concert will be held.
Hurl said they’ve also been in contact with the local organizing committee that is currently debating whether the show should be held this year, or whether it should be held next spring and if possible, held outdoors.
Either way, Hurl said plans are already underway for next year’s tour and organizers are planning to use the Rimbey effort as the benchmark that from this year forward, all other communities will be encouraged to meet or exceed.
“We absolutely loved it and appreciated it and now we’re going to challenge other towns and we’re going to say ‘look what Rimbey did. Here’s what Rimbey did’”,” she said. “We’re going to show them pictures and we’re going to show them how pink you guys were and say, ‘beat that’”.
Judged by organizers and participants in the tour excluding Hurl and her son Rusty, the competition was based on both how pink each community became during the visit and the amount of money raised divided by the community’s population and in both cases, Hurl said the clear winner was Rimbey, despite not having an exact figure.
“Picking the winner was a little difficult because part of it was subjective in that the judges were asked which town they thought was the pinkest, but the other factor wasn’t subjective at all,” she said. “It was based on the size of the population and how much they raised, and per capita, no other town even came close to Rimbey.”
While the combined final financial numbers of the entire tour haven’t yet been finalized, Hurl said the total is already well above the $50,000 mark.
“Thank you Rimbey for being spectacular,” she concluded.