Five years ago the Condors organization thought it would be a good idea to bring a live Condor into Rabobank Arena as a way to educate fans about real Condors while getting a few more people to take notice of a team named Condors.
As it turned out, the plan went a little sideways during the National Anthem and a video of Queen Victoria escaping from handler Joe “the birdman” Krathwohl and eventually flying up on the Condors’ bench and marching down the hallway to the locker room went viral.
The Condors, the team, was on the worldwide map as was Queen Victoria, a captive-raised Andean Condor.
Friday, Queen Victoria will be back at center ice for what Krathwohl hopes is a somewhat tamer event, with some strutting and maybe a flap or two of the wings, which span 10 feet.
As they did five years go, Krathwohl and Queen Victoria spent a couple of hours Thursday getting acquainted to the area and the ice, which this time around had been resurfaced and was in pristine condition, which mimics what it will be Friday night before the puck is dropped.
“I remember how quickly things went downhill (five years ago),” Krathwohl told Condors broadcaster Ryan Holt on Wednesday on the Condors Insider radio show. “We had done a rehearsal a few hours earlier and she seemed fine with everything but the room can be a different environment over a short period of time
“At 2 o’clock in the afternoon the ice was roughed up, you could walk on it … she kind of got it in her mind that was OK. Come game time … it became as slick as a street in Minneapolis this time of year. Next thing you know we add some carpeting to make it really nice.”
Queen Victoria was having none of it.
“She said, no way, I don’t like what you guys have done with the place. That’s why I was wrestling with her. I never want her to get hurt or feel uncomfortable so I just let her go.”
Krathwohl ventured out onto the slick ice, picked Queen Victoria up and all was OK until he slipped just as he reached the carpet. Krathwohl went down hard (he suffered some broken ribs) but he held the bird above the ice and once again the Queen was free to roam, with the finale being the leap into the players bench and the walk down to the locker room.
“I know everybody made it like she escaped and was on the loose, Krathwohl said. “But she was acting like a trained bird. She went someplace she thought was her own backstage dressing room.”
As an added bonus this time around, Krathwohl is bringing King Edward, who will make an on-ice appearance during the first intermission. Both birds, which Krathwohl hopes will eventually mate and produce Condors to be reintroduced to the wild, will be on the concourse at some point during the evening.
“All of this is kind of the fundraising end to what will eventually be an effort to take captive hatched Andean Condors born in Nevada and ship them down to Peru or Colombia to be released in in the wild,” he said.
The first 2,000 fans 10 and older at the the game will receive a Condors on the Loose talking figurine with the radio call from the memorable night five years ago.