One of the largest recreational facilities in Saint John is hoping to cash in on a bit of nostalgia after more than two years of pandemic turbulence.
The Canada Games Aquatic Centre, which played host to much of the games in 1985, suffered financially as COVID-19 made swimming lessons and working out in gyms difficult.
“There are times with any recreational facility that you wonder about your long-term sustainability and ability to stay open,” said general manager Amy McLennan.
She said lately they’ve seen some of their regular gym clientele return and even hosted some big swim meets, but there’s another way the facility’s hoping to bring in some revenue.
The resurrection of one Fiddle Edd.
Fiddle Edd is an anthropomorphic fiddlehead who served as mascot of those 1985 games when they were held in Saint John.
Though he mostly disappeared, in the years since he’s served as something of a symbol of nostalgia in Saint John.
Now the aquatic centre is hoping to cash in on that nostalgia, partnering with locally-based Anonymous Threads for a line of Fiddle Edd clothing. Fifty per cent of the revenue from the Edd-emblazoned shirts, hats and sweatpants will go to the facility through May and June.
“You can’t help but smile when you see his little green face smiling at you,” McLennan said.
“Response has been great.”
Anonymous Threads has actually had some Fiddle Edd shirts for about six months now, one of their many local-focused designs.
The couple behind the company say the Aquatic Centre reached out about a month ago to partner up on the project.
“I’ve always been a fan of Fiddle Edd,” said Andrew Prosser, who co-owns Anonymous Threads with partner Beth Shaw.
“I’ve had his stuffy since I was six years old. I got it for Christmas.”
Shaw, on the other hand, said she doesn’t remember the character much from her childhood, but got a kick out of Prosser and a friend reminiscing over Fiddle Edd.
Since launching their first design with the leafy character on it, they said orders have been coming in from far and wide. People who grew up in the Saint John area and have since moved away, or remember tuning into the games and seeing Fiddle Edd on TV.
“It’s so fun that we get to bring that memory back to people,” said Shaw.
Who is Fiddle Edd?
It seems like everyone who grew up in and around Saint John has a memory of the character.
Some, like former mayor Don Darling, know the character on a more intimate level.
“I never added Fiddle Edd to my resume but back in, I think, 1984, my mom worked for the Canada Games and a mascot had been created named Fiddle Edd,” said Darling.
“I was asked if I would be a backup to the main performer. Next thing you know I was donning the Fiddle Edd costume and travelling all over Southern New Brunswick.”
Darling, who was 14 at the time, describes the costume as hot and heavy.
He says occasionally you’d run into someone who wanted to give Edd a hard time, but most people loved him.
All these years later, there’s one person who loves Fiddle Edd more than most.
Who created Fiddle Edd?
When it came time for Saint John to host the Canada Games they held a public contest, asking residents to pitch a mascot to represent the city throughout the competition.
The winning design came from seventh-grader Leanne Sutton.
“I remember thinking what to me says New Brunswick but can be a mascot that hasn’t been used,” Sutton said, reminiscing on her contest-winning creation.
“I chose a fiddlehead fern as it is a plant I liked to watch grow and also loved to eat.”
She said she was shocked when she was called to the principal’s office one day before being led to the gymnasium and introduced to her creation.
“I laughed and cried and then I just hugged him,” said Sutton.
She’s amassed quite a collection of Fiddle Edd memorabilia since, and says she thinks the idea of using him for a fundraiser is a great idea.
McLennan and the rest of the staff at the Canada Games Aquatic Centre hope so, too.
“We want to make sure that we’re here for years to come,” she said.
“For you to enjoy, for your children to enjoy and for your grandchildren to enjoy.”
A Fiddle Edd t-shirt from Anonymous Threads costs $26.50 before taxes and shipping and handling.
Prosser says after the fundraiser one of the designs, featuring Fiddle Edd swimming in a pool, will be sold exclusively by the Canada Games Aquatic Centre.
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