Hay River minor hockey player Luke Daigneault kisses the Stanley Cup. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
And it's not something they will soon forget, because the mug just happened to be the Stanley Cup -- one of the oldest and most cherished sports trophies in the world.
Three-year-old Tyrese Sunrise gleefully poses for a picture with the Stanley Cup. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
People of all ages waited patiently to have their photos taken with the cup -- at $10 a shot. (The profits will go to Hay River Minor Hockey.) Some wore the jerseys of their favourite teams. Whole families gathered for a picture. Others hugged or kissed the cup, although no one was allowed to lift it.
The cup was also taken onto the ice of the Hay River arena where young hockey players gathered for a team shot with the cup in the centre, just like the NHL champs do every year.
Luke Daigneault kissed the cup as it sat on the ice, and even the nine-year-old recognized the historic significance of the trophy.
"It was like kissing the championship cup for a thousand years."
The minor hockey player, who said he loves the game and wouldn't stop playing it for anything, added "it was just cool having the cup here."
Betty Ritchie brought her two-year-old son Jacob Harder to get his picture taken with the cup.
"It was really important," she said, explaining copies of the photo will be treasured by Jacob's father and grandfather. "They're both hockey fans."
For the first time, Marion Smith saw the trophy that her grandfather won back in 1901 while playing with the Winnipeg Victorias.
While her grandfather's name was not on the trophy, the name of his team was, she said.
"That validates it. We know he was on the team."
The chance to see the cup was also important to young figure skater Jessica Farmer.
"I think it's cool," said the 12-year-old. "It's really good it came all the way to Hay River."
Farmer said seeing the Stanley Cup might even encourage her to try playing hockey some day.
Keeper of the cup
Phil Pritchard sees excitement over the Stanley Cup wherever he goes.
"It doesn't matter -- Canada, the U.S., Russia or wherever -- the excitement from young and old is incredible," said the trophy's handler, who is officially the vice-president, hockey operations and curator, with the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
Pritchard explained the Stanley Cup is simply a Canadian icon. "We all have one thing in common and it's the love of hockey."
The Stanley Cup was on a tour of the NWT and Nunavut, which ends today in Cape Dorset.