Upwards of 10,000 people showed their support for the City’s bid to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games during a rally which was held in downtown Red Deer last Friday.
“I was really pleased with things. You work all of those months, you envision things and you hope and you dream that people will be behind you, but to actually see the support was amazing,” said Lyn Radford, chair of the Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee.
The rally, which took place on Ross Street, included free events such as sports, culture, live entertainment and bouncy castles. The downtown was 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 were also on hand to help the City celebrate by giving a presentation and signing autographs and visiting with citizens as well.
All of the sports that are showcased at the Winter Games were on display and most of them were interactive displays so participants were able to partake in them.
A number of Olympic athletes, including Mellisa Hollingsworth, Deidra Dionne, Drew Goldsack and Lyndon Rush were also at the rally to show their support as well.
The dignitaries, which included local politicians as well as members of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee, arrived in the City’s downtown via horse and wagon.
“This is such a great homecoming and we are honoured to be back in Red Deer,” said Cari. “Every time we come home to Red Deer, it feels like we never left. Red Deer is ready to shine.”
Radford also gave an emotional presentation on stage as well.
“You prepare for this for a long time, but you need a community to show that they are behind it too,” said Radford. “You did it to me today. Supportive, community-minded and ready to help whatever you need, that is Red Deer.”
In addition to the rally on Ross Street, the Winter Games Bid Committee also toured some of the facilities that would be utilized should Red Deer be awarded the 2019 Canada Winter Games. In February, during their first visit, the bid committee visited the facilities at that time as well.
During this visit, they had a look at the Red Deer College residences which would serve as the athlete’s village and the Abbey Centre in Blackfalds where the badminton events would take place.
In the morning and after the rally, the bid committee also heard from a number of presenters regarding different areas of the City, the crux of operations and the Red Deer bid committee’s vision for the Games.
“We wanted to present what we are capable of doing. We had to present that. I think we achieved that effect,” said Radford. “I have gone over it again and again and I’m really not sure what more we could do.”
She added having the support not only from the community, but from the City of Red Deer, the school districts, Red Deer College, other Central Alberta communities and private businesses has been crucial to the bid.
“It has been very crucial. There is no doubt about it. We needed all of those pieces to fall in place to hopefully have a successful bid. If you don’t have those pieces then they start looking at what your risks are and if you can’t put together partnerships, then they wonder why,” said Radford.
Meanwhile, Radford said during last Friday’s events and afterwards as well, she was receiving feedback from the 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee.
“We had quite a few wows. Probably the biggest wow was when we turned the corner on the wagon by Jackpot Casino onto Ross Street and all you saw was people. That just reinforced what we’ve been saying all along – that we have community engagement. We can’t thank everyone enough.”
The announcement of which community will host the 2019 Canada Winter Games will be made on Sept. 4th. Lethbridge is also in the running.