The countdown is officially on for the biggest sporting event in Red Deer’s history.
The one year out mark for 2019 Canada Winter Games was celebrated Thursday at Great Chief Park, where dignitaries and games officials spoke to about 50 people.
“This is truly our moment,” said Lyn Radford, games board chair. “We’re going to present a fabulous show for our community, for Canada (and) for the province. We’re so excited about that.”
As long as fundraising and corporate sponsorship goals are met, everything will be on time and on budget, Radford said.
But “there still is a lot of work – there’s a million moving pieces to this.
“The big thing now is we have to stay on course. We have to realize any time we make a change in our plans it affects many other areas. We have to be true to our course and our values and stick with it,” she said.
Radford presented the idea of bringing the games to Red Deer to council five years ago.
Mayor Tara Veer said it’s been a long road to get the games ready.
“It’s hard to believe it was five years ago,” said Veer. Council “took a calculated risk and it’s already paying off for Red Deer.”
On Thursday the volunteer web portal opened at www.canadagames.ca/2019.
“We absolutely need 5,000 volunteers in order to welcome our country. We know when we ask Red Deerians to step up, they always honour that commitment and follow through,” said Veer.
“Over the past couple years people were often asking how they can get involved, well today marks the day you can officially sign up as a volunteer,” Veer added.
Ricardo Miranda, minister of culture and tourism responsible for sport, said he’s very excited to have the games in Central Alberta.
“The community spirit is alive and it’s going to be a fantastic event. It’s going to bring economic benefits to the area and foster the next generation of olympians and paralympians,” said Miranda.
“Every single family knows what it’s like to get up in the morning and drive your kids to practice. It’s truly a part of who we are as Albertans,” he added.
The celebration doesn’t stop with the ceremony, as there will be an event at Bower Ponds Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m. with food, games and fireworks.