The countdown is officially on for the BC Winter Games in Vernon.
Scores of people gathered at SilverStar Mountain Resort Saturday for the torch lighting ceremony of the Games.
Leading up to the torch being lit, a group of 25 athletes from SilverStar Freestyle Club and the Vernon Ski Club formed a torchlight parade, snaking their way down the mountain holding bright red flares.
Following the parade, dignitaries helped light the torch near the gondola. The torch will burn until the Games begin on March 23 and end on March 26.
Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu said the Games already have about 700 volunteers, and they’ll need another 700 or 800 by the time the Games get underway.
“To make these BC Winter Games a huge success I urge you all to consider volunteering if you haven’t done so,” she said. “These games are going to bring lots of economic benefits to the region and I think that more than 1,800 participants and athletes they are going to attract, so these Games are a great way for athletes to step in and explore their potential so that they will get to explore international level and national level, and I want to thank all the families, athletes and coaches for all the work you have been doing and the preparation you’re doing.”
Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) vice chair Amanda Shatzko commented on the importance that sport plays in the lives of the hundreds of athletes who will be competing.
“These Games are an opportunity for these athletes to demonstrate their strength, commitment and charisma,” Shatzko said. “You will meet new friends, explore new terrain, and come together over the love of sport. I hope you enjoy our world class facilities at SilverStar and Sovereign Lake. I encourage all of you to come cheer on our athletes and support our local sports. Best of luck to everyone and thank you all to the volunteers and the organizing committee for making this all happen.”
Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming was present to signal the lighting of the torch.
“Let’s celebrate the Games, lets welcome the athletes, lets light the torch,” he said.
The torch lighting coincided with SilverStar’s annual light-up, which saw a Polson Market erected in the village filled with artisans, as well as a light display, firedancers and music.
Capping off the night was a lengthy fireworks display that lit up the sky above the village.