The ENMAX Centrium’s ice surface was transformed into an elegant, glittering party for the 2019 Canada Winter Games Fire & Ice Gala fundraiser on Friday.
Blue and silver decor shimmered under milky, white lights while a soft mist enveloped the banquet for 500 guests.
Likewise, Red Deer has the opportunity to change and evolve as host to the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“I don’t know if people know how big it is to have been chosen to host a national event,” said Cari MacLean who was a co-emcee for the city’s first and biggest fundraising event for the games.
The 2019 Canada Winter Games will include 19 sports and numerous events and festivals. Over 2,400 athletes, 500 officials, 450 media outlets, 700 VIPs and 20,000 visitors will come to Red Deer.
“It’s going to showcase the city. It’s going to showcase the people. It will showcase the athletes who will one day probably have an opportunity to participate in Olympic games.”
MacLean, who attended junior high and high school in Red Deer and married fellow Red Deerian and sports broadcaster Ron MacLean in Red Deer, said she still takes pride in the city she used to call home. Others have also taken notice.
“As years have gone by I can say I’m from Red Deer and people know where Red Deer is.”
Lyn Radford, chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society, said the gala was an opportunity to raise money and connect with individuals and corporations as preparations continue for the games that are Canada’s largest multi-sport games.
“It’s hard to believe it’s only two years away now. Two years out Feb. 15,” Radford said.
The gala sold out during the pre-sale ticket launch in November and it’s the first chance for organizers to sharpen their hosting skills, she said.
“There will be a lot of VIP hosting also at the games so we need to be on top of our game because we’re inviting the nation,” Radford said.
Olympian and co-emcee Catriona Le May Doan said the Canada Games were a huge part of her development as a speed skater. The games also play a huge role in sport development in host communities because of the venues and equipment are left behind.
“There will an opportunity to host other events in those certain sports and national federations will see the opportunity so Red Deer can then bid. It’s not just those two weeks of games. It’s the legacy that comes with it,” Le May Doan said.