Remembering the man with the purple cape 

What: The Legend of Rabbit

When: Friday, Nov. 30

Where: Dusty’s

Funerals in Whistler aren’t the somber gatherings of people in black to lament the loss of a loved one that they are in other places.

Whistlerites send their friends and relatives on to the maker in the way they lived. So in the case of John “Rabbit” Hare, that means a few runs on the mountain followed by joining friends for beers, dancing and merriment.

“He was crazy,” said Jessica Hare, most famously known as Pika and Rabbit’s daughter. “He loved to ski and drink. He loved music and dancing. He was well known for his dancing. I don’t know how he did it. He was up all night partying then working split shifts to go up the hill. He loved riding his bike in the summertime.”

Pika invites the community to celebrate the life of her father, a legendary local in Whistler history books, at The Legend of Rabbit this Friday, Nov. 30 at the après to evening hour at Dusty’s. The Hairfarmers will be there to provide the music.

“I guess just to remember the outlook he had on life,” she said of remembering her dad. “Just to be happy and live life how you want to. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world and get busy and forget why you came to Whistler in the first place.”

Rabbit was one of Whistler’s original ski bums. He began venturing off his sailboat in English Bay to Whistler in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Won over by the mountain lifestyle, he was soon living fulltime on the top of Whistler Mountain, starting up the Red Chair every morning. He lived the dream — ski all day, party all night — until he grew his signature long grey hair and beard. He died of lung cancer on Dec. 7, 2002.

“He didn’t want to die in a hospital,” Pika recounted. “He wanted to be in the cottage in the pines. He loved that place. I couldn’t have done it alone (taking care of him). People showed up with food and would hang out with him.”

Pika remembers Rabbit’s last night in Whistler.

“Rodger showed up at dad’s house,” she said. “He took him to the Boot. He carried him to the car. He had no energy to walk. He sat him on a bar stool with a lineup of beers. He passed away a week later. It was his one last night out on the town at the Boot to say hi to everyone.”

Join Pika and friends to relive Rabbit memories — him riding his bike from Tapley’s to the Boot Pub with a purple cape flying behind him — and raise a pint to his spirit that continues to live on in Whistler’s mountain lifestyle.

Rabbit posters will be for sale with proceeds benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society.

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