Contributed photo Games mascot Waskasoo and the teen who imagined him, Mackenzie Van Damme, of Lacombe, stand in front of the merchandise booth at Bower Place mall.

Waskasoo the mascot and other Red Deer Canada Winter Games popular items

Brisk sales are needed to help fund the games, says chair

Waskasoo, the cute deer mascot for Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games, has ended up under a lot of Christmas trees.

While most Games merchandise has been selling briskly over the holiday season, board chair Lyn Radford said Waskasoo stuffies have been the most popular seller— along with 2019 hoodies and long-sleeved T-shirts. Waskasoo was conceptualized by Lacombe teen Mackenzie Van Damme and designed by a local artist at Redpoint Design.

A booth of local games merchandise opened in Bower Place mall in early December and will continue to be staffed Fridays, Saturday and Sundays to Jan. 7.

After that date, clothing and other Winter Games-emblazoned items will continue to be sold from the Games office in the former Central Elementary School, which is becoming Red Deer’s new cultural centre.

Radford said new items, likely including hats, will be unveiled at the Feb. 15 one-year countdown special family event at Bower Ponds.

Merchandise sales are needed to help cover the cost of hosting the national event – and also to help spread the word about Red Deer as the host city.”

The merchandise is our biggest promoter. When you’re travelling some place, someone will ask, ‘What does that mean, Red Deer 2019?’ and you can talk about the moment.”

Looking ahead, 2018 will be a busy year, said Radford, who listed other Games-related milestones: The online volunteer registration portal will also open Feb. 15. More than 5,000 volunteers will be needed at the various sporting venues, in food service, transportation, media services, etc.

Radford said, shortly thereafter, the call will be put out for dancers and other entertainers who will perform at the opening and closing ceremonies.

On April 14, the Games organization will partner with the Sheraton Celebrity Dance-Off — and benefit from proceeds of that charitable event. The money will go towards Games legacy projects.

The Canada Games Celebration Plaza will officially open in November 2018.

And the Torch Relay will begin in the fall of 2018, when the Roly McLenahan Canada Games Torch is lit from the eternal flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. It will gradually make its way across the country, completing its journey at the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Games on Feb. 15, 2019, in the Centrium.

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