SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — Gordie Howe’s family is getting ready to celebrate his life in his hometown of Saskatoon.
The city has declared Sunday as Thank You, Mr. Hockey Day, and events are planned to honor the hockey great who died in June at age 88.
A private ceremony is to be held Sunday morning to inter the ashes of Howe and wife Colleen inside a statue of him that sits in front of the SaskTel Centre arena.
The family made the request, and the city successfully applied to the province to have the statue and a small portion of adjacent area declared a cemetery.
A bridge also is to be renamed in the former Detroit Reds Wings star’s honor.
Howe was born in Floral, Saskatchewan, and grew up in Saskatoon.
“It’s going to be quite the day. I’m pleased that part of my brother is coming home,” Howe’s sister, Helen Cummine, told CKOM Radio.
Howe’s grandson, Corey Howe, recently moved to Saskatoon from Ohio and said he has been struck by how many people he meets have a tale to tell about his grandfather.
“They just light up. They’ve got a Gordie Howe story and they just pour out their hearts and their love for my grandpa,” he said. “I can only stand there and say how important he was to me, as well, and how special it is to be a part of it.”
Other activities on Sunday will be centered around the Saskatoon Blades’ Western Hockey League home opener.
The team will wear special commemorative jerseys and the concourse at SaskTel Centre will feature artwork featuring Howe and display trophies he won during his career.
Howe spent 26 seasons in the National Hockey League and six in the World Hockey Association. He is still No. 2 on the NHL’s goals list behind Wayne Gretzky.