Fredericton postpones Willie O’Ree Day

City postpones Willie O’Ree Day events to follow new guidelines set out by Public Health

The City of Fredericton has postponed the retirement ceremony and flag raising events outside City Hall for Fredericton’s former NHL hockey player, Willie O’Ree. The events were scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 18, also known as Willie O’Ree Day. Public gatherings will no longer be permitted following the province’s announcement about moving to the Level Three Phase of its COVID-19 Winter Plan as of midnight Friday, Jan. 18. The retirement ceremony and the flag raising will be re-scheduled at a later date when public gatherings are permitted by New Brunswick Public Health.

“While we're very disappointed about the postponement of the Willie O’Ree Day events, it’s important the City of Fredericton follow the guidelines set out by Public Health,” said Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers.  “Mr. O’Ree deserves a full audience for his accomplishments and I look forward to celebrating with fellow Frederictonians when that day comes.”

The Boston Bruins still plan to retire O’Ree’s jersey at 8 p.m. AT on Tuesday, Jan. 18, prior to their game against the Carolina Hurricanes. This is the 12th number the Boston Bruins will have retired in the history of the franchise, which has been in existence since 1924. O’Ree will participate virtually from his home in San Diego.

O’Ree broke the NHL’s colour barrier in 1958 during his debut with the Boston Bruins, becoming the first Black person to play in the National Hockey League. Now sixty-four years later, the team will retire O’Ree’s number 22 jersey and honour his Hockey Hall of Fame career.