One of the coldest Februaries in decades was no match for the warmth of an entire city.
The 2019 Canada Winter Games officially crosses the finish line at the Enmax Centrium on Saturday, where the closing ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.
“Amazing. Magical. Tremendous. I don’t know what else I could say,” summed up Canada Games chair Lyn Radford of the event that has been years in the making.
The opening ceremony was an eye opener, she believes.
“I think for the community, the early highlight was the opening ceremonies. I don’t think anybody realized how big this was and how professional this was going to be,” she said of the two-hour spectacle on Feb. 15.
As impressive as it was, only half of the athletes, managers and coaches were in town. The rest arrived halfway through the games and most will be at Saturday’s event.
“Now is your time” is the theme of the closing ceremonies.
Organizers are promising a “bold, unique show, setting a new standard for the Canada Games closing ceremony.”
Radford said Saturday’s affair will be a little shorter, with fewer speeches and less pomp, than the opening show.
“The closing ceremonies will be a bit of a more informal party. It will be a real celebration.”
Athletes will be celebrated, but also the community, and how thousands came together to make the games a success.
And that success was not without obstacles, thanks to Mother Nature. The coldest February in 40 years challenged athletes and, especially, volunteers, many of whom huddled in their distinctive red and gold parkas as they staffed their posts.
“Those jackets were the right ones,” Radford said with a chuckle.
The high-energy closing show is packed with inspirational moments, musical performances and athlete interaction.
Tickets are still available through TicketsAlberta. Lower bowl tickets cost $50 for adults and $40 for youth and seniors. Upper bowl adult tickets are $30 and $24 for youth and seniors.
Radford said one of the games legacies will be the message that was sent loud and clear throughout the past two weeks: that Red Deer can host big events and can marshal huge community support.
Red Deer also showed how to host an event that is inclusive, she said.
“This was a games for everyone.”
The right tone was set from the very beginning, said Radford, with a dinner celebrating the latest Canada Games Hall of Honour inductees.
Freestyle skier Jennifer Heil, speedskater Cindy Klassen and sprinter Bruny Surin, along with builder Clare Drake and distinguished alumna Elizabeth Cannon, were inducted at the Sheraton Hotel Red Deer the evening before the opening ceremonies.
“We did that one really well,” said Radford.