The Kenai Peninsula has the unique opportunity today to show off on the world stage.
When the Arctic Winter Games Site Committee visits the community today, it will be carefully scrutinizing the peninsula's preparedness for hosting this large international event. Perhaps more importantly, it also will be watching to see how enthusiastic the community is about bringing the games here.
Based on the countless hours of preparation and gallons of perspiration volunteers have already poured into the effort, the community appears up to the challenge.
From the time the idea to bring the games here was proposed by Borough Mayor Dale Bagley, an unprecedented range of people have joined the effort.
An indication of that support is evident in the personal touch bid organizers have brought to the effort. From volunteering with logistical planning to helping organize public safety, both private citizens and government officials have selflessly gone out of their way to show just how much the peninsula wants these games. The local bid committee even went as far as hand-delivering the bid document to games officials in Whitehorse, Canada.
Now it's time for those efforts to go on display.
From the moment the site committee arrives, they'll be looking to see if we've got the facilities to host such a large event. We do.
Taking center stage will be our local schools and sports facilities, which rival any in the state. On the central peninsula alone there are two covered ice facilities, four high schools, hundreds of miles of ski trails and numerous gymnasiums.
In addition to our sports facilities, the peninsula has an impressive variety of cultural and historical sites that should catch the committee's collective eyes. From its Native Alaskan roots, through Russian occupation and into 20th century oil exploration, the peninsula has the historical background to make this a culturally exciting place to host the games.
In addition to our outstanding public and private schools, the peninsula also is home to top-notch educational venues such as the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, the Pratt Museum and the Alaska SeaLife Center, just to name a few.
But all the preparation, planning and qualifications in the world don't matter unless the community is fully behind the games. That's where you come in.
Community members can show support for the games by attending a welcoming ceremony for the bid committee at 10:30 a.m. today at Kenai Central High School's auditorium. In addition to showing the committee how welcome they are on the peninsula, this ceremony gives the community a chance to resoundingly say, "We want these games."
The Arctic Winter Games is the premier sports event for young people living in our chilly corner of the world. They're a way to unite northern people through cultural exchange and friendly competition.
The cooperative spirit of the games is alive and well here on the peninsula. That spirit shines through in the efforts of our local volunteers who have worked tirelessly to bring these games here; they deserve to be commended for working cooperatively and positively toward their goal.
Now that those efforts have come to fruition, all that's left is to welcome the bid committee to our community, show them what we can do and hope they agree that the Kenai Peninsula is the best choice to host the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.
Welcome, Arctic Winter Games Site Committee members. Enjoy your stay here on the peninsula -- we hope to see you again soon.
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