Countdown celebration set

Official one year countdown begins on July 21 at Thunderbird Plaza

The one-year countdown to the 2016 Abbotsford BC Summer Games is about to begin.

A 365 Days to Go celebration at Thunderbird Plaza (behind city hall) will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 21. Entry is free.

“We’re inviting the public to come out. A few local sports celebrities are also coming to help us kick off the Games,” said Abbotsford BC Summer Games board president Steve Carlton.

Carlton said Tuesday’s extravaganza will also function as a public awareness event for next year’s Games, with a focus on signing volunteers, as thousands more are still needed. There will be a registration tent for those interested.

There is a major amount of planning and organization left to accomplish, said Carlton.

There are currently 125 key volunteers, directors and chair members working on communications, accommodations, transportation and food, and the Games are looking for another 3,000 volunteers to help in every area.

Abbotsford’s Silverfox Air Cadet Squadron will also be marching with the BC Games flag, which will be raised at city hall to cap off the celebration.

There will also be a medley of entertainment featuring local singers and dancers, including Bhangra, Korean and First Nation performances. As well, food and light refreshments will be provided by local vendors.

In addition, four Abbotsford Hall of Fame inductees confirmed their attendance.

Rugby star and BC Summer Games alum Harry Toews will be there, along with wrestling gold medalist Cory Kwak, world class water skier and Fraser Valley Water Ski Club founding member Dave Miller and Jack Robertson, a community builder who spearheaded the creation of Rotary Stadium among other local projects, and who was the founding president of the Abbotsford Hall of Fame.

Carlton said businesses are also encouraged to donate money, materials or services.

Any surplus money will go to a legacy fund to benefit the city.

The 2004 Abbotsford Games left a community legacy of more than $174,000. Of that money, $100,000 went to the Abbotsford Community Foundation for student bursaries and scholarships. The University of Fraser Valley received $46,000, while the city took in the remaining amount which was used to purchase a saddle tent, still used at various local events, according to Carlton.

The BC Summer Games feature the best young developing athletes in the province, supported by certified coaches and officials.

Abbotsford expects to welcome more than 3,500 participants in 18 sports. The games will include three days of competition between July 22 and 24, with a closing ceremony on the final day.

The Games could infuse as much as $2 million into the local economy, according to a city news release.

At last year’s event in Nanaimo, the overall direct spending impact generated was nearly $2 million, including $1.1 million in spending by participants, families and other spectators over the four days.

Go to bcgames.org for further details.

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