While some dream of heading south in January, many living far closer to the equator are excited to witness a winter in all its glory in Winnipeg.
In 2019, more than 1,300 Floridians signed up for a social media contest, hoping to win a Winnipeg hockey weekend getaway in mid January. Through a partnership between the Winnipeg Airports Authority, Tampa International Airport and Swoop, this contest was first introduced to celebrate Winnipeg as a the travel destination, fit to provide an authentic winter adventure.
Contest winners Mike O'Soro and his wife, Jessica, who lives in Dunedin, Florida, arrived in Winnipeg on January 16, just in time to experience a full-blown snowstorm in winter.
“The whole trip was great,” said Jessica. “It is just a different experience to be in Canada and the cold weather is a nice change for us. When we left it was 80°F so we were eager to break out the clothes we don’t wear a lot and also I love hockey.”
As a big hockey fan, Mike said he loved watching the Tampa Bay Lightning play at the Bell MTS Centre on Friday night, and got a great first impression of Winnipeg overall.
“I would tell everybody to come here for a visit, it is very nice, very lovely and the people are amazing,” said Mike.
Throughout their visit, the two enjoyed spending quality time at The Forks, discovering the Manitoba Museum, venturing down to the river on a blustery day, touring the Hargrave St. Market and heading out to the Exchange District for a brunch. Although both of them had seen snow before since Mike came from Massachusetts and Jessica came from Upstate New York, they've only been to Canada once. When Jessica came to visit Niagara Falls when she was eight years old and Mike to Montreal for a trip in his early 20s.
As the two raved about their drinks, food and hospitality, they thanked every partner on their journey who made them feel like "VIPs," particularly the Delta Hotel and Tourism Winnipeg, who provided them with helpful tips and warm jackets.
Mike initially did not believe he had won this contest but was thrilled when Tampa International Airport reached out on Twitter to confirm it was true. He says he is not a lucky person and when he first received the email he didn't think it was reality.
On January 19, both Jessica and Mike left Winnipeg laughing and saying that when it's a little warmer they would like to come back and visit Winnipeg.
A huge thank you to all our partners who helped make this opportunity possible for us. The direct route from Winnipeg to Tampa is one of seven new destinations that Swoop is offering at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, opening the door for greater travel experiences.
Provided by Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.