"I remember the time when me an' Muskrat Tommy, ya know, he had that crazy squat on 19 Mile Creek... we met up with these Japanese tourists one après session at Dusty's. Ol' Muskrat, he had this little piece of fur he kept in this one piece suit, that's how he got the name... well he pulls this thing out, and lays it on top of their nacho platter. Man, you shoulda seen the look on their faces. I think that was 1987 if I 'member fine..."
Whistler's unofficial non-blood sport is "Tell me why you're a local." It has been since well before I moved here in 1992. Finally, there is an official club to celebrate our unofficial non-blood sport and the first club get together is 5 p.m. tonight at the Garibaldi Lift. Co. ASK ME I'm a Local is a grassroots, community developed program that will make Whistler well known around the globe for its local characters and authentic mountain town flavor, by connecting dedicated locals with guests through a simple button and a smile.
Are you the local who often feels compelled to walk up to the obviously confused tourist looking at a map of Whistler Village upside down, smile and ask, "Where are you trying to go?" If so, you're the local this program is perfect for, just register for the program and become an ASK ME! participant. The club is exclusive - only 2,500 buttons have been made - so once those are gone it will be a while before a second chance to acquire the "badge of localness" presents itself. From 5 to 7 p.m. tonight at the GLC, locals will be getting together to learn about ASK ME, sharing stories of Whistler life and eating complimentary food and drinks courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb.
ASK ME I'm a Local was developed by Whistlerite Janis McKenzie and tourist friend Dan Perdue of Toronto who debated how to best improve the relationship between locals and tourists over a cup of coffee while Perdue was visiting here. McKenzie joined the Whistler2020 Visitor Experience community task force and presented an idea to the group last spring at our annual action planning session. The resulting action recommended by the task force gave McKenzie the direction she needed to look for program partners and supporters. The program is sponsored by the RMOW and Whistler Blackcomb, and is supported by Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and Whistler 2020, and hopefully you. Although not connected with the 2010 Winter Games "ASK ME! I'm a Local" has become something for the community to rally behind as February 2010 approaches.
ASK ME also has buttons in French, German, Spanish and Japanese, so if you are functionally fluent in another language you may be eligible for multiple buttons. Businesses will feature signage for the program in storefronts and at concierge desks to build guest awareness of the program.
Creating, fostering and maintaining positive guest experiences in Whistler is a key factor in supporting our vibrant, resilient tourism economy. ASK ME delivers on multiple levels, not only connecting locals with tourists, but connecting locals with locals. Tonight, if you want, come prepared to tell a short tale about your favourite local or your most memorable local interaction with a tourist at the Whistler Local Speakers Corner. The best stories will be shown on Whistler Live! screens throughout the village during the 2010 Winter Games.
If you are prepared to declare your "localness" and are committed to interacting with Whistler's guests in a way that enhances the resort experience, enriches the lives of Whistler's citizens, we can all partner for the continuing success of our resort community as we ensure Whistler's ongoing economic viability, tonight's the night. Everyone who signs up for the program by Dec. 1 gets entered into a draw for a Whistler Blackcomb Season's Pass.
To learn more about actions which are moving Whistler toward our 2020 vision, or to get involved, go to whistler2020.ca