October 08, 2009
After winning contest, recession-weary Oshawa finally feels rockers' love

It was the KISS of life Oshawa needed.

Thousands of music fans and regular folks revelling in the positive vibes turned out to welcome one of the biggest rock bands in the world to a city hungry for good news.

"There's bad news all over the country but this is terrific," beamed Joe Bosco, 76, outside the General Motors Centre where the concert took place Wednesday night.

As the show started, a giant Google map appeared on the screen and zoomed in on Oshawa.

After the second song, guitarist and singer Paul Stanley asked the crowd: "How ya doin', good people of 'shwa? So lemme ask you a question - did you really believe that we weren't coming to see you? No way!"

The audience cheered wildly - because it was the concert that almost didn't happen.

Ubit McCoff, a 40-year-old engineer from Oshawa, said "Being born and raised in Oshawa, I never thought anything would happen to me and going to the KISS concert was a dream come true."

The chilly winds didn't stop fans from arriving hours before show time.

"I am going to be the favourite mom in Oshawa tonight!" shrieked Debbie Craig as she scored three last-minute released tickets at the box office. All 5,600 seats had sold out within minutes weeks ago but a block of 20 suddenly opened up as the stage was being set up.

"They're huge fans," Craig said of her sons, aged 13 and 15. "Woo hoo!"

"For KISS to come here - it's huge," a thrilled Janis Mullins said as her son Liam, 9, had his face painted in trademark black and white KISS makeup under a Dr. Pepper tent across from the GM Centre.

Councillor Robert Lutczyk, who spearheaded efforts months ago to get residents voting for a concert, showed up in the morning to bask all day in the glory.

"This will put our GM Centre on the map and on the radar screen of every concert promoter," he said.

"It's the biggest thing in entertainment since the Rolling Stones played Oshawa 30 years ago."

For Jenn Lynch, 13, the thrill factor hit "90 on a scale of 10." Introduced to KISS by her parents at age 6, she celebrated her first concert with a Gene Simmons' makeup job.

The occasion prompted Dan Smith, "46 going on 17," to take the day off work as a labourer with Ontario Hydro so he could go shopping at Value Village for a black three-piece suit and pointy-toed boots.The show was Smith's third and 14-year-old son Ozzy's second.

Mayor John Gray walked over from city hall in the blustery weather for a sneak preview of the preparations. "This puts us on a par with the big city venues."

With files from Jennifer Yang