CALGARY -- After a three-month-long pandemic-induced shutdown, the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire celebrated its reopening with a drive-thru style Stampede breakfast Friday.

Pancakes, bacon and hot coffee were all delivered to guests in the comfort of their vehicles.

“We opened our hotel yesterday after a three month closure and we wanted to do something to celebrate the reopening of the hotel and also celebrate Stampede.” said Sheraton Eau Claire general manager Cole Millen.

Millen said typically at this time of the year - the start of Stampede - the hotel would be almost at full capacity.

Friday however, in a pandemic that has virtually shut down travel everywhere in the planet, they were more than 90 per cent vacant.

Without a Calgary Stampede, there aren't many guests to accomodate, much to the chagrin of the city's service economy and its workers.

“Stampede is obviously a huge economic driver," Millen said. "Not just for hotels but for restaurants and for all the retail and attractions that go along (with visiting Calgary).”

For the Sheraton staff, flipping pancakes and serving up coffee was about celebrating. Millen said, “We all know that we can’t have Stampede in its true form this year (but) we still feel the spirit in the city and thought this would be a good way to kick off what should be an exciting and fun week for the city.”

Jo Ackerman and her family, who were among the first customers, said the news that the Stampede had been canceled was disappointing but not unexpected.

“What’s great is that Calgary is still keeping the spirit and that’s what we love and why we’re down here celebrating," she said.

Ackerman lifted her full plate from her lap, adding, “How can you refuse pancakes in the morning and free ones at that? It’s all part of the spirit of Calgary and Calgary is gonna come back strong.”

Pancake breakfast

Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi came for breakfast wearing boots, a cowboy hat and a face mask.

“Community spirit cannot be canceled.”  said Nenshi. “I would encourage Calgarians for the next 10 days to get out your boots, get your hats, get out your gaudy western shirts and enjoy the Stampede spirit because we do have a lot of community resilience to celebrate in terms of how we have been able to get through this so far.”