Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bald Eagle To Fly At Hockey Game

Mark Tamar the Vice President of Entertainment and Event Marketing for the St. Louis Blues Hockey Club visited World Bird Sanctuary recently and talked with WBS staff member Trina Whitener.
Mark Tamar, Vice President of Entertainment & Marketing for the St. Louis Blues Hockey Team
Mark had visited World Bird Sanctuary with his family on previous occasions and liked our displays, birds and the WBS mission which includes educating the public about these magnificent birds.  Mark and Trina got to talking about Blues Hockey and the possibility of having an Eagle at a Blues Hockey Game.  Trina is so passionate about Blues Hockey and knows the capability of our birds and our staff.

Subsequently, Trina talked to our management about having an Eagle at the Blues Game.  Many of our staff are passionate Blues Hockey fans, including me.  As a side note--I've been a Blues fan since 1967 when the Blues were an expansion club in the National Hockey League.  My dad split a season ticket package with three other men and I was able to go to 2-3 games a year.  What a treat for a 7 year old boy!!  I am still an avid Blues fan to this day.

World Bird Sanctuary management approved the idea of having a Bald Eagle at the Blues game for the National Anthem.  Mark and our team wanted to make it even more exciting by flying the Bald Eagle during the pre-game ceremony.
WBS Director Jeff Meshach, Mark Tamar, and WBS's Flying Eagles Team members discuss strategy
Roger Wallace, the head Eagle trainer, was consulted and he chose the Bald Eagle named Clark.  Clark is the Bald Eagle who is "all business"--no circling around to make the flights more dramatic.  Roger Wallace, Director Jeff Meshach, and the rest of our flying eagles team met with Mark Tamar at the Scottrade Center and viewed all the plexiglass and support cables holding up the protective netting and the Jumbotron.  Roger knew then that he must choose Clark--the straight flying, no nonsense, get from here to there quickly--Bald Eagle.
WBS Director Jeff Meshach, and Roger Wallace (not shown) checked out overhead obstacles
To make the event even more meaningful, Mark Tamar wanted the Bald Eagle to be at the game closest to Veterans Day; and so it was planned for November 10, 2012.

World Bird Sanctuary received the VIP treatment with special parking close to where the players park and where the Zamboni (ice resurfacing vehicle) is kept at ice level.
Naturalist Trina Whitener and Head Eagle trainer Roger Wallace surveying the venue
We had a pre-event meeting to see where and how the Bald Eagle would be escorted onto the ice.  Roger Wallace put ice crampons on the bottom of is shoes so that he could walk across the ice from the Samboni chute to the penalty box, where Roger would release the Bald Eagle to Trina Whitener.  Trina was stationed close to the Blues goal and goalie.

After the pre-ceremony eagle flight meeting we all went to a dressing room for entertainers--a Green Room so to speak.  This room was equipped with giant mirrors, large countertops, comfy chairs, and a TV to watch the Blues pre-game broadcast.  Mark Tamar told us when he would come to get us for the Eagle flight.  Everything was planned down to the exact minute.

Roger Wallace and Trina Whitener received official Blues jerseys from Mark Tamar to be worn during the event.  What an awesome gift!  I know Trina was in heaven, since she is a lifelong Blues fan and an ardent Naturalist.
Roger Wallace, Clark the Bald Eagle, and Trina Whitener ready for the big event
You will have to tune in to my next blog to see how the event turned out and to see the next set of exciting pictures.

Submitted by World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/EEC Supervisor Mike Zieloski

Photos by Mike Zieloski

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