Read Megan Lambert’s blog about the 365 Countdown to the BC Summer Games event.
Hundreds appeared at Thunderbird Square this evening to commemorate the 365 Days to the Games Kickoff Event for the 2016 BC Summer Games in Abbotsford.
Athletes, politicians and citizens were all on hand to take in the sunshine, free food and eclectic entertainment that showed the spirit of the community.
From the high-tempo choreography delivered by the Sada Virsa Sada Gaurav Bhangra Club to the rhythmic thumping of the Korean-inspired Hurricane Drum Team, the menagerie of culture in Abbotsford was on display.
Stan Petersen, Summer Games board vice president, said the turnout was more than anticipated, adding, he was impressed with the team that put the event together.
“Abbotsford is a great place to be looking for volunteers because the city always comes through,” he said.
Mayor Henry Braun said he was also pleased with the event’s turnout.
“This is a great community of volunteers and it’s a great community builder when people are working together,” said Braun.
Despite a core of over a hundred key volunteers, the Games will require 3,000-plus volunteers to make everything come together, without a hitch, come next summer.
“No doubt we will get 3,000 volunteers,” Braun said, “this has always been a community that rises to the challenge.” He added, “I think it will be the best Games ever.”
Abbotsford resident Allan Turner said he wasn’t surprised when he heard the Games were returning to Abbotsford.
“It’s great; there couldn’t be a better city. They’ve got everything they need here. The pool is close by, the stadium,” he said.
But the Games are much more than dollars and redesigns, it’s about legacy, and the appearance of four Abbotsford Hall of Fame inductees at the event demonstrated that.
In attendance was rugby great Harry Toews, wrestling gold medalist Cory Kwak, world class water skiier Dave Miller and Jack Robertson, community builder and founding president of the Abbotsford Hall of Fame.
“It is always good just to help,” Toews said. “I hope to give back to the sport what it gave me.”
Miller imparted a similar sentiment, saying, “It’s good to be a part. The weather is great and it looks like a lot of people are here.”
Robertson, who is turning 90 next year, was equally supportive and recalled his work in the 1995 Summer Games as chair, which, he said, required the help of 6,000 volunteers at the time.
“I’m not sure l’ll be volunteering,” he said, jokingly, “but I’ll be out to watch.”
Braun noted the city will be resurfacing the track at Rotary Stadium, while three fields at W.J. Mouat are undergoing a $6.2 million makeover to put in new artificial turf.
The presence and contribution of Summer Games participants and alumni shines a light on what the Games can mean to the thousands of young athletes from around the province, coming to Abbotsford to compete across 18 sporting events from July 21-24, 2016.
As Abbotsford city councillor Kelly Chahal said, “there’s a civic pride here. I can feel the vibe and this is just the beginning.”
2016 Abbotsford BC Summer Games president Steve Carlton said he was excited to see this level of support from the community.
“This kind of energy motivates the board to carry on. It’s very encouraging.”
Check out the photo gallery at The News Facebook page.