One year from today, Red Deer will welcome more than 20,000 athletes, coaches and visitors from across the nation for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
The milestone was celebrated during an event at Great Chief Park Thursday afternoon.
While excitement for the Games continues to grow, Board Chair Lyn Radford says there’s still a lot of work to be done over the next year.
“[There are] things like the opening ceremonies call for dancers, and the cultural aspect,” she says. “We’ll be talking about festival plans, about volunteer uniforms, and we’ll also be doing the call-out for volunteers. We need 5000 volunteers.”
As of Thursday, those interested in volunteering during the Games can now sign up online.
Radford says everything for the Games remains on-time and on-budget, but more sponsors are still needed.
“There are a million moving pieces to this, but the big thing now is we have to kind of stay on course and realize that every time we make a change in our plans, it affects many other areas,” she says. “We’re going to present a fabulous show for the community and the province.”
Several new sponsorships were announced Thursday, headlined by the new national presenting sponsor for the 2019 Canada Winter Games - Tim Horton's.
Partnerships with the Ponoka Stampede Association and Town of Ponoka, Vellner Leisure Products, Squeeky Kleen Car & RV Wash, The Co-operators Insurance, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, Looker Office Furniture and Driving Force were also announced Thursday.
Minister of Culture and Tourism Ricardo Miranda was also on hand at Great Chief Park and said it was clear to him the community spirit of Red Deerians is very much alive.
“Every time we talk about sports, we’re talking about quality of life. Every single family knows what it’s like get up in the morning and drive your kids to practice or whatever. It really is truly a part of who we are as Albertans,” he says. “It’s going to be a fantastic event and bring economic benefits to the area, but again, foster that next generation of Olympians and Paralympians.”
Mayor Tara Veer also touched on the estimated $132 million economic impact the Games will have on the Red Deer region.
"The question that faced our council on behalf of our community was what is the risk of proceeding and weighing that against the risk of not proceeding," Veer said. "Thankfully we took the option of taking all the information we had and exercized the courage, and said in the long run, this will be of incredible interest and benefit to our community and we took a calculated risk. It's already beginning to pay off for Red Deer."
The Canada Games One Year Out celebration is happening tonight at Bower Ponds from 6-8 p.m. There will be free skate rentals, hot chocolate and treats, as well as a number of interactive sport and cultural activities throughout the evening. The night will be capped off by fireworks at 8 p.m.
A free park and ride will run every 15 minutes between Sorensen Station and Bower Ponds from 5-9 p.m.
More details on the Games are at CanadaGames.ca/2019.
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