How many paws can you find in Roeselare?

By Miwako Sasaki

There was a special event in Roeselare, Belgium this week, to commemorate the passing of the Ronde van Vlaanderen through the town on April 2 - the first time in 26 years that the Ronde has visited Roeselare. The race passed by Roeselare's Wielermuseum (Cycling Museum), where local and dual world champion (1976 and 1981) Freddy Maertens works.

The municipal government of Roeselare celebrated the occasion with a special event, "Op Zoek naar de Leeuw" - in other words "Search for the Lion". De Leeuw (the Lion) is synonymous with Flanders, and Flemish flags with a rampant lion on a yellow background are famous all around the world.

80 caricature paintings of Belgian riders, like Tom Boonen, Peter Van Petegem, Nico Mattan, Jempi Monseré, and also Maertens, were drawn on the windows of the shops, cafés and restaurants in Roeselare, by Filip Cardoen. He is a famous artist in Belgian cycling and his works are also on display in Wielermuseum. This time, Cardoen didn't draw only riders, but also some paws of the lion on his 80 works in the windows. And there was a competition to count these paws...

Over 1000 people participated in this event in Roeselare and 40 people could count the right answer: 142 paws! Those getting it right came to the Wielermuseum on Thursday evening and their prizes were drawn by lottery. James Lahousse, Martijn Monteyne and Jurgen Sierens - all football players from KSV Roeselare, and Roeselare's Sharon Van Dromme (Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne-T Interim) were all present as celebrity drawers, along with Freddy Maertens himself.

The first prize was a Scatto racing bicycle worth €850, won by Stefaan Sierens. Unfortunately, he couldn't come to the event, but his mother-in-law got the prize instead of him. Sierens and his family searched for the paws in the city five times and finally got the right answer. "Sometimes the paws in the window were hidden behind the chairs in cafés, so we had to move the chairs to count the paws!" said his family.

The second prize (MTB) winner also couldn't come the event. 13 year old Pieter Houbaert had football training that evening and his brother, 6 year-old Jomme, and their mother got the MTB instead of him.

After the lottery, the winners also had time to taste the new brand of fruit beer called "Mystic", which may or may not have had an effect on their paw counting powers...

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