COMMUNITY SPIRIT - From left

Red Deerians encouraged to support Games bid

Downtown to transform into winter wonderland this Friday for local rally

On Friday thousands of Red Deerians are expected to gather in the City’s downtown to support the 2019 Canada Winter Games bid.

A rally is set to take place on Ross Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. where supporters are asked to wear red. The Games Bid Evaluation Committee will make one final visit to the City at 2 p.m. before making the announcement Sept. 4th at the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary as to which community (between Red Deer and Lethbridge) will play host to the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

The rally will include free events such as sports, culture, live entertainment and bouncy castles. The downtown will also be transformed into a ‘winter wonderland’ complete with snowflakes and snowballs. Ron and Cari MacLean, who were named as honourary chairs of the Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee will also be on hand to help the City celebrate.

“All of the sports that we have in the Winter Games will be on display and most of them will be interactive displays so people will be able to partake,” said Lyn Radford, chair of the
Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee. “It’s going to be like a festival atmosphere down there with high energy.”

As for what Lethbridge is doing in terms of celebrations when the Games Bid Evaluation Committee visits them on Thursday, Radford said they have kept an eye on their plans, but are really focusing on Red Deer.

“We said right from the beginning that we have to run our own game plan and that’s what we’re doing. I believe they’ll be doing something similar. But we have a jewel in that Ron and Cari MacLean are our honourary chairs.”

There is also a contest on Twitter where Red Deerians are encouraged to vote for the City to host the Games. Red Deerians are asked to take pictures or videos of themselves, their friends and family, showing or saying that Red Deer is ready to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Post photos or videos on Twitter, facebook and Instagram using #reddeerisready and #CanadaGames.

In addition, Radford said the Red Deer Bid Committee has worked hard to bring these Games to the City and it’s important that the community gets behind the cause as well.

“Through our discussions over the last two years and in particular over the last year talking with various groups, they have all said that this is an important piece for our community to grow and so we feel comfortable that we’re moving in the right direction and doing the right thing in promoting this event,” she said. “But the thing is the Bid Evaluation Committee (for the Canada Winter Games) only has our word on that, so what we need to do is we need to have this community show that we aren’t just talking through our hats and we need to show that we really do want these Games here.”

One of the components in being named host of the 2019 Canada Winter Games is the ability to rally 5,000 volunteers for the actual event.

“They will kind of measure the crowd (on Friday) to see if we have the capabilities to get that many volunteers or not,” said Radford. “I am confident we can reach that volunteer number without any problem. I don’t feel any hesitation on that part of it. I think we can meet that mark with no trouble at all.”

If Red Deer is awarded the Games, there are many benefits that will come with it, said Radford.

“There are a lot of facilities that will be upgraded and some new-build facilities as well. Quite a few of these projects have all been on the plan for the City. The biggest thing about this right now is that by getting this bid, this will help move that forward. Somebody in Alberta is going to get these Games – it’s going to be Lethbridge or Red Deer. And somebody is going to get $22 million minimum of funding from the province and the federal government to move those things forward,” she said. “To me this is a great thing to take and leverage.”

If awarded the Games, the City will see upwards of 3,400 athletes compete over the two-week event and see an economic impact of more than $100 million as well, Radford said.

For more information about the Games bid, check out www.reddeer.ca/reddeerisready or following facebook facebook.com/reddeerisready and Twitter @reddeer2019.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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