Here’s to the Guys and Gals in the White Hats

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By Jane Calderwood

ACI-NA President Greg Principato noted in his opening speech Monday morning that he’d probably never look at the red and white color scheme again without being reminded of the great White Hat Volunteers of Calgary.  Based on the applause this comment elicited, it’s clear the audience shared his sentiment.

YYC's Norm Harvey, the deputy White Hatter, leads the delegates at the ACI-NA/World Annual Conference and Exhibition in the White Hat Ceremony.

The highlight of today’s opening session, for me, was the White Hat Ceremony.  Today’s ceremony, and the folks behind it, are truly representative of the western hospitality that is Calgary.  And while not everyone will admit it, a rather large number of attendees left the big hall proudly wearing their hats. The White Hat Ceremony dates back to 1950 and has been used to greet such dignitaries as the Dalai Lama Vladimir Putin and the rock group Aerosmith.  So we are in very good company.

We all know there is a proverbial ‘village’ behind every well run airport, and Calgary has more than 200 volunteers who greet guests and visitors and help them through the airport and ensures everyone receives a warm Calgary welcome. And it takes the efforts of the entire city to host an international convention, and YYC’s White Hat Volunteers have done Calgary proud.  I have yet to run into one who has not had a smile, a kind word and a plethora of helpful information (maybe because I look so confused?).