Jack Brown had a very long day.
As coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula's bid to host the 2006 Arctic Winter Games, Brown was the man responsible for making sure everything went well during Friday's site visit by the international AWG Site Committee.
As the 10-hour visit included stops at 10 different sites, Brown had a lot to worry about.
"I haven't been getting much sleep," a weary Brown said Friday evening as the day's events finally came to a close at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.
"I was up last night at midnight spray painting signs in my garage."
Throughout the day, Brown had to be equal parts ambassador, tour guide and timekeeper as the tour wound its way around the Kenai-Soldotna area. He constantly referred to a minute-by-minute itinerary which planned the day's events down to the second. By the end of the day, Brown's itinerary was -- like him -- a bit dog-eared and worn, but still intact.
To his credit, the tour ran almost flawlessly. The carefully timed segments dovetailed into one another seamlessly, and glitches in the program were almost nonexistent. When the tour did encounter one small speed bump, it wasn't the fault of local organizers, but an Anchorage hockey team.
"We were planning on doing a ceremonial puck-drop at the sports center, but one of the hockey teams didn't show up on time," Brown said. "That was really the only thing we wanted to do and couldn't."
Brown wasn't the only one making sure the tour went well.
On the bus shuttling the committee around, a small army of green fleece-clad volunteers rode along, keeping the international visitors company and providing enthusiastic moral support.
The bus rides between venues gave area government and community leaders a chance to show just how supportive the area is about the games.
At one point, former borough assembly member Tim Navarre led the group in an impromptu "we want the games" cheer. At another, Soldotna City Council member Jane Stein passed around a fresh bucket of popcorn. Soldotna Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael even played server, handing out snacks and juice to the lighthearted group of volunteers and visiting officials.
All in all, the day's events went almost exactly according to plan. From the packed house of cheering supporters at Kenai Central High School to the final reception at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, the tour stuck to the plan -- highlighting the central peninsula's people and facilities.
"We've done everything humanly possible we can do," Brown said Friday evening. "I think we hit a home run."
As for himself, Brown said he's relieved to finally have the site visit past him. The pressure of having to host such a complicated and demanding event can take a lot out of someone.
"I look at it like a football game. Imagine trying to keep the intensity of a two-hour football game up for nine hours," he said.
Brown said keeping that intensity up was made much easier because of the tireless dedication provided by the hundreds of community members who helped out.
"I'm just very proud of this community," Brown said, finally taking a moment to let out a deep, proud breath.
"And I'm exhausted."
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