The long wait is just about over for the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, which Airdrie will host Feb. 14 to 17.
Nearly 1,900 high-level winter athletes from across the province will be welcomed to the city Feb. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m., during the Games’ opening ceremony and Live on Main event at Airdrie City Hall.
Shauna Quinn, executive chair of the Games’ host society, said the free, two-part celebration will be a fine way to kick off a fun-filled weekend of elite sporting competition.
“It’s our first chance as a city to welcome the athletes, but it’s also their first time being together,” she said.
“When they have that moment where they see the torch, the stage and the minister [of sport] and mayor greeting them, they realize what a big deal this is for them and what it all means.”
Live on Main will begin at 6 p.m. on the south side of City hall, in the ATB Financial parking lot. Quinn said the event will feature digital projection art, live DJ entertainment and “fire-breathing dragon” apparatuses, along with food trucks and other vendors.
“Having this momentous occasion is a key start to the whole experience,” she said.
As well, large screens will be erected to display the opening ceremony, which will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. on the other side of City hall.
According to Quinn, the opening ceremony will mimic what is seen at higher-level multi-sporting competitions, such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.
“The athletes stay with their zones, watch the greeting from [Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Leela Aheer] and Mayor Peter Brown, and then they take their athlete’s oath,” Quinn said. “[Then], we’ll have the lighting of the torch, before they head back to their buses to get ready for their competitions the next day.”
For those who can’t make it out in person, Quinn said Global Television is live-streaming the event on its channel and website.
To accommodate the festivities, Quinn said, sections of Main Street will be closed downtown, similar to what is done for airdrieFEST in the summer.
Considering the potentially frosty conditions, Quinn said dressing for the weather will be paramount. According to theweathernetwork.com, Airdrie’s 14-day forecast, as of Feb. 4, is calling for a high of just -14 C and low of -20 C on Valentine’s Day.
“We’re checking the forecast daily, but there’s just nothing we can do about the weather,” she said. “Dress properly and know you might need to walk in, and there’s a lot of standing around. If the weather is really cold, we will try to shorten up the experience for the athletes, because their safety is the number one priority.”
For more information, visit the 2020 Alberta Winter Games Facebook page.