Fans of the film were delighted with a variety of attractions which included getting to ride a tank — hired from the Canadian Military Education centre — that crushed cars. (Bill Dobbs/Hope Standard)

Fans of the film were delighted with a variety of attractions which included getting to ride a tank — hired from the Canadian Military Education centre — that crushed cars. (Bill Dobbs/Hope Standard)

Perfect weather and passionate turnout favoured the ’First Blood 40 anniversary’ event

Organizer Brian McKinney says none of this would have been possible without the fans’ love for Rambo

A tank crushing cars, epic paintballing, a sweet new statue, and even some good old fashioned action hero themed singing.

An epic time for an epic event, one that would put most Hollywood sets to shame. For Hope had been celebrating the ‘First Blood 40th anniversary event.’ And the “great success” of the anniversary, which took place this Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 7 to Oct. 10) already had organizers planning to do it all over again.

Hundreds of people, both locally and around the world, came in honour of the 1982 release of the movie, First Blood, which was filmed in Hope in 1981. Perfect weather greeted fans as they were delighted with attractions such as the unveiling of the Sheriff Will Teasle wood carving, Rambo paintball, and getting to ride a tank — hired from the Canadian Military Education centre — that crushed cars.

Brian McKinney, co-organizer for the event, says the success of the 40th anniversary already has him planning for the future.

“One thing that we would like to do next, and I’m really excited about it, is William Lancaster is in town doing the [First Blood] documentary,” says McKinney. “He’s going to be releasing this probably in about two years at various film festivals…we asked him, where is he going to premiere it. And he said that he would like to premiere it right here in Hope. Which would be awesome.”

Lancaster is a documentary filmmaker and the grandson of the late Brian Dennehy, who starred as Teasle. He is currently filming a documentary about First Blood.

Other attractions over the four days included vehicles on display from the movie, a meet-and-greet with German knife designer Dietmar Pohl (who unveiled a special knife for the 40th anniversary on Tuesday), autographs by Patrick Stack (who played Lt. Clinton Morgen), a screening of First Blood, and Rambo karaoke. Additionally, a ‘Rambo Lane’ plaque was unveiled by Mayor Peter Robb in an alleyway between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue.

McKinney says for him, it was incredible to see how the community came together to support this event and to see the love people still had for Rambo. He’s especially appreciative of the Hope businesses who provided sponsorships and their services for the anniversary. And while he isn’t sure when the next event will happen, he does know that as long as the fans demand it “nothing is over.”

“If the world didn’t want it, if the fans didn’t demand it, we would just lock it up in a suitcase,” says McKinney. “The fans that came into this town are the craziest First Blood John Rambo fans on the planet — but in a good way. They bring the passion. They bring the excitement.”

Fans interested in highlights of the event can check out articles written on the event by the Hope Standard. They can also visit the Rambo: First Blood Tourism Facebook page and their website, tourismhcc.ca/first-blood.

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