Where do you put 1,800 houseguests?

Making it a team effort

Posted: Wednesday, February 08, 2006

When 1,800 young athletes descend upon the Kenai Peninsula next month for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games they will need a place to sleep, a place to shower and food to eat.

How will they be accommodated and who’s in charge of the monumental logistical task?

The first big question is where do you put an extra 1,800 houseguests?

When the competitors begin arriving March 3, for the Games, which run from March 5 to 11, they will be billeted at Skyview, Soldotna and Kenai Central high, Soldotna and Kenai middle and at Redoubt and Sears elementary schools.

Obviously the schools are not set up as dormitories nor do they have students who live on campus, so, according to Glen Szymoniak, who is assisting Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Donna Peterson as care and comfort director, the conversion process begins with early dismissal March 2.

Students will be sent home two hours early and 1,000 bunk beds, which currently are in storage in Anchorage, will be brought to the schools where Games volunteers will begin assembling them.

“All the student desks, the teachers’ desks and tables will be pushed to one side of the room to make space for the beds,” Szymoniak said.

Although some athletic competition will take place in Homer, no athletes will be housed there. They will be shuttled back and forth from the central peninsula during the Games.

Athletes also will need a place to shower in the morning or after competing.

Szymoniak said a formula exists for precisely how many shower heads are required per a certain number of people.

“Except for Sears, all the schools where athletes will sleep also are competition venues, and they all have showers,” he said.

Additionally some portable showers are being brought in and some additional showers are being built.

“One of the problems was getting our hands on the (portable) showers,” Szymoniak said.

“Some were coming from the New Orleans area where they were being used by construction workers,” he said.

Besides sleeping and showering facilities, care and comfort folks are making Internet cafes available at every venue so visiting athletes will be able to keep in touch with their families back home.

“We’ll also have food — snacks and all sorts of things — available throughout the day and night,” Szymoniak said.

For extracurricular activity outside the Games, he said a dance for all athletes is being planned for one night at the Kenai Mall in Kenai.

A daily arts and crafts fair also is being set up there for athletes.

The first team scheduled to arrive in the central peninsula is Team Alaska, which is expected March 3.

Other teams will arrive that day and on March 4, a scheduled practice day for the athletes.

Not everyone arrives at once, because the Kenai Municipal Airport can only handle so many planes, said Szymoniak.

By the time the athletes all arrive, many of the comforts of home will be in place to welcome them.

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