Wild tour comes to Ely this week

by Tom Coombe

Hockey season is months away, but hockey will most definitely be on the minds of many Ely area residents Tuesday morning.<BR><BR>That's when the Minnesota Wild brings its summer caravan here, in an effort to build interest in the team and raise money for local youth hockey.<BR><BR>Ely is one of 23 stops on the 2004 Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour.<BR><BR>At least one Wild player, in addition to radio play-by-play announcer Bob Kurtz, former Minnesota North Star Jack Carlson, and Wild scout and former North Star coach Glen Sonmor will be part of the delegation that comes to Ely.<BR><BR>Events include a 10 a.m. program for Ely public school students at Washington Auditorium, and a fundraiser from 10:45 a.m. to noon at the Ely Arena.<BR><BR>Wells Fargo banks are a major sponsor of the Wild and the corporation is a full sponsor in the summer caravan.<BR><BR>Organizers say both the Wild and Wells Fargo are committed to local communities and hope to reach out and touch the lives of children.<BR><BR>"For me, my main deal is the message they're going to bring," said Dan Peterson, who heads Ely's Wells Fargo branch. "It's such a great message. They're going to talk about staying in school and the importance of staying in school and reading."<BR><BR>Washington Elementary students will hear from the Wild delegation, along with high school students who can fit the event into their finals' week schedule.<BR><BR>After the school presentation, the Wild delegation heads over to the arena for a public meet-and-greet session.<BR><BR>Schweigert hot dogs, Coca-Cola products and chips donated by Ely's Northland Market will be available.<BR><BR>The Ely Blue Line Club, the local youth hockey organization, will also raffle off Wild memorabilia.<BR><BR>"They (the Wild group) will also be available for autographs and pictures," said Peterson.<BR><BR>Admission to the event is $10 for adults, and $5 for students from age six through community college level. Children age five and under are admitted free.<BR><BR>Proceeds go to the Ely Blue Line, which is looking to raise money for continued maintenance and improvement projects at the arena.<BR><BR>Wild personnel are set to visit 23 cities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin this week.<BR><BR>At each stop, the Wild help raise money for area youth hockey associations.