By CRAIG DANIELS -- Toronto Sun
SYDNEY -- The word is out at the Olympic Games: The moose are loose and they're partying hard.
An upscale Sydney watering hole at trendy and beautiful Darling Harbour has temporarily been taken over and renamed the Moose Lodge for the duration of the Games by a consortium of Canadian businesses -- and the federal government.
The Moose, as it has become known, has become a slice of Canadiana in downtown Sydney -- a mini Canadian consulate complete with a liquor licence.
Moreover, it has become the place to see and be seen in Sydney. No matter the hour of the day.
"I dropped by the other morning at 5:30 and it was absolutely hopping," said Mark Arsenault, the director of communications for Toronto's 2008 Olympic bid.
"It has become the spot."
Past and present athletes, team officials, locals, Canadians on vacation, NBA personnel, Italian TV personalities, politicians -- including Mayor Mel Lastman and Premier Mike Harris -- and dignitaries such as Aline Chretien, wife of the prime minister, all have made appearances.
Blue Rodeo and other Canadian performers have played 90-minute sets all week. The place is shoulder-to-shoulder every night and there are long lineups of people eager to pay a $10 cover charge to get in.
The bar, on a terrace open to the water, has been festooned with a pair of those fibreglass moose that have adorned downtown Toronto all summer. Wait staffers are decked out in Canadian T-shirts and Labatt products are readily available -- along with local beverages, of course.
"The idea was to have a place to entertain, but the thought was, 'Let's not do cocktail parties. Let's have some fun,' " Arsenault said.
And people have been letting loose.
TSN's Paul Romanuk said he nearly was thrown out of the bar the night it opened for climbing up on one of the moose to have his picture taken.
"You're going out of here," Romanuk said the bar's security staff told him while he was riding a moose bareback.
"I said: 'But I've come all the way from Canada for this picture.'
"They gave in and told me to consider myself warned."
The attraction, in part, has been a chance to rub shoulders with athletes, who get in free, and schmoozers and makers of all stripes.
"I think it shows Canadians as we are -- friendly, fun, and with a youthful spirit," Arsenault said.