Kids crowded into a Bedford school cafeteria Thursday morning in anticipation of the unveiling of the 2011 Canada Winter Games mascots.

 

A few minutes later, Anni and Sammi - two Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers - were introduced at École Beaubassin as the official mascots of the Games set for Halifax in February, 2011.

 

Sammi – short for Samuel - sports a blue Canada Games sweater, hat, and sneakers while Anni – short for Angelique - is dressed in a blue vest, scarf, boots and ski goggles.

 

The brother and sister duo were named by students from École Beaubassin and École Boisjolie in Dartmouth. Games officials say they were given names that work in either French or English to capture the bilingual nature of the event.

“From now on, whenever you see our mascots running around town, you’ll immediately think about the Halifax 2011 Games” Jean-Paul Deveau, the Games chairman, told the crowd before the mascots came out.

“People will remember our mascots long after the Games are over”

Anni and Sammi will attend Canada Games celebrations and events across the province to help build spirit for the event. The cost to design and deliver the mascots was $25,000, andan additional $8,000 will be needed to clean and transport them.

If Thursday was any indication the mascots should be a big hit – at least with children. When they arrived, the kids ran up to them from all angles, hugging them and putting their hands out for high fives.

“In a few short years, some of you may be ready to try out for the Canada Games” Deveau told the roughly 100 elementary students.

The 2011 Canada Winter Games takes place Feb. 11 to 27 and will be the largest multi-sport event in Halifax’s history. It will also mark the first time Halifax will be hosting the winter event.