Traditionally, croquet is played on a course with two stakes and nine wickets.
Traditionally, newlyweds receive gifts from friends and family.
Neither tradition was anywhere to be found Sunday afternoon when, instead of opening presents, Christopher and Wendy Smith opened their hearts to hold a Family Croquet Tournament fundraiser for You Are Not Alone (YANA) on a mini-golf style obstacle course at the Vanier track. Complete proceeds went to YANA, which supports families whose children must travel out of the Comox Valley for medical treatment.
After several adventures setting up the course — including a lost wedding ring — friends, family and supporters showed up Sunday (many in costume) to bid on silent auction items, enjoy snacks, then head out to play a fun round of croquet on a course that included challenges such as a water obstacle.
The Smiths grew up in the Valley and Christopher runs a business (Enecon Alberta) in Calgary. He said he and Wendy had two visions in arranging the event. “One, we wanted to get married, and two, we wanted to do something for the community.
“We have everything already — kids and a house full of stuff — so our vision was to have a wedding and have an event after so that instead of giving wedding gifts you donate to YANA and that would be our gift to the community,” Christopher said.
“We are very pleased to be the recipient of the proceeds from the inaugural Family Croquet Tournament for YANA sponsored by Enecon Alberta,” said YANA president Judy Cryer.
“Christopher Smith and his brand-new bride Wendy put a tremendous amount of thought and work into their first YANA croquet tournament as their way of giving to families in the Comox Valley. We thank Christopher and Wendy and their community partners. We had a lot of fun and look forward to the growth of this fantastic family event in the future.”
Christopher said the idea came about after he and Wendy attended a curling event for charity. Why croquet?
“We wanted to find something that was different and everyone could play. This way the smallest kid to the oldest person can all get out there and do something together.”
After tying the knot Saturday, the Smiths headed to the Vanier track to set up the course. They packed up around 11 p.m. when the water sprinklers came on. Getting up early Sunday, Christopher was back at the track at 6 a.m. with a riding lawn mower to cut the grass.
“I got on the lawn mower, was halfway through and the sprinklers came back on again. Shot me right in the head. I finished it off in the sprinklers … shivering and freezing. As soon as the sprinklers turned on, I took a corner and my brand new, less-than-24-hour wedding ring flew off and I ran it over.”
Wendy was philosophical about the loss, saying, “What can you do?” Anyone coming across the ring is asked to contact YANA at 250-871-0343. “It’s in the lawn somewhere,” Christopher said.
No sooner had he lost his ring than the mower ran out of gas. The wet, ringless but undaunted Christopher headed off to buy more gas, and eventually the course was completed.
Christopher plans to make the Family Croquet Tournament an annual event.
“Definitely. Now that we’ve got all the bugs worked out and I know to ask when the sprinklers come on. We’ll be back,” he said, adding he hopes more local businesses will join in next year to design some challenging holes.
The Smiths thanked the many people who donated to the event and supported YANA. With the tourney behind them they are now off to Cypress on their honeymoon.