PWG officials and mascot say "Let the Games begin."
Twenty nine years ago a log cabin and dog sled building missionary by the name of Al York and his wife Bernice decided it would be a good idea to have a day in the dead of winter to get families together to enjoy outdoor arctic fun and games, and thus the Peninsula Winter Games were born. There were probably a half a dozen or so activities that first year held at the Soldotna Little League Park, and maybe a dozen or more families participated in the one day event, but Al and Bernice made sure each kid got a ribbon for participating.
Nearly three decades later, the Peninsula Winter Games (PWG) cover the final ten days of January commencing with an adult Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament this Friday, January 21st at 6:00pm at the Kenai Recreation Center and culminating with the Bradford Clark Memorial Adult Mushing/Skijoring Race. The growth of this community event is a tribute to the memory of Al York and all adults who dedicate themselves to helping kids have fun. "It's no longer possible for anyone to even attend all the events, there is such much going on," says Aud Walaszek, Executive Director for the Kenai Peninsula Tourism & Marketing Council, a partner in promoting the Peninsula Winter Games for the last few years. There are many competitive events and many things for kids to just try for the first time, like cookie decorating, kicking an ice scooter, or tossing a frozen salmon.
Organizers expect hundreds of athletes and visitors from throughout the Peninsula and around the State of Alaska to participate in this year's Winter Games. Ice carvers will be coming in from as far away as China to participate in the State Championship Ice Carving Competition. Staging of the event has developed into a network of support that includes major corporate sponsors and hundreds of boosters and volunteers, and while there has developed a community economic benefit from the PWG, the spotlight remains firmly fixed on the kids, "It's about art, trying new things, competition, fast dogs, outdoor winter fun, but primarily and forever more it's about the kids!" cheered Walaszek.
Watch the Peninsula Clarion for a complete listing of activities including the traditional ceremonial start of the Tustemena 200 dog sled race Saturday, January 29th and the ever popular Monopoly Tournament this Saturday, or go to www.peninsulawintergames.com for full details and schedule of events.
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