By Marty Hastings – Kamloops This Week
Laszlo Horvath, not old enough to shave, sung his way into Kamloops folklore and became an overnight hero in Hungary.
Awkward silence washed over the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament (KIBIHT) opening ceremony on Dec. 30 and 1,000 fans squeezed their sticks when the U.S. national anthem failed to play on the broken public-address system.
In the first of two rousing, off-the-cuff acts of human decency, those same predominantly Canadian fans who moments before were mumbling nervously broke into an impassioned rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.
Old Glory had been honoured and joy had replaced anxiousness in the bleachers, but scrambling volunteers still couldn’t get the damn PA system to work — and guest-of-honour Hungary’s anthem was up next.
“One of my directors walked over to the Hungarian coach and said, ‘Would your team like to sing the Hungarian anthem?’ KIBIHT chairman Ted Kowalsky told KTW.
Cue 15-year-old Horvath.
“This kid, No. 12, put up his hand and said,’Yup, I’ll sing it,’ Kowalsky said. “He skated over to us. The crowd started going nuts.
“He stood beside me. He was so proud. He was not the slightest bit nervous. Plus, the kid’s got a good voice. He sang this thing and the crowd just erupted.”
The kid just grabbed the mic and let fly.
“It was a spontaneous decision and I was happy that I could sing our anthem,” Horvath said. “I wanted to sing. I learned in music school and I sang in the choir.”
The response in Hungary to Horvath’s rendition of the poetic prayer has been undeniably unique.
Shawn Pooley of Radio NL was watching the event unfold at McArthur and knew immediately something special was happening, so he began filming, praying while capturing the footage because his iPhone was within a few megabytes of running out of memory.
The broadcaster went home, pieced together an edited version of the video, published it on YouTube and contacted a friend in Kamloops with Hungarian connections, Bob Dever, who helped spread the link on the Internet.
“When I went to bed that night, I figured a few people in Hungary would see it,” Pooley said. “He messaged me the next morning and said it’s at 33,000 views. That’s when I’m l like, ‘Holy gee.’
Pooley might be using curse words now. By Friday evening, Jan. 1, the video had more than 400,000 views.
There are hundreds of comments underneath the video — most of them in Hungarian — and Pooley has been receiving private messages of thanks on Facebook.