There were those present Friday, January 29th, when the original 2006 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) Caldron was lit again for the first time since the opening ceremonies of the original AWG several years ago, that remembered the first time ten years ago that then-Borough Mayor Dale Bagley suggested that the Kenai Peninsula should consider being the 2006 host site for the AWG. "Naturally some were skeptical. Anchorage and Fairbanks were the only sites that had hosted the Games in Alaska since their inception in 1967, and of course the main skeptics didn't think we could raise the money. But shortly thereafter Jack Brown and Dave Carey caught the vision, when people from the public like Becky Foster, Pam Howard, and Andrew Carmichael started spreading the buttons with the slogan 'We Want the Games' around the area, and it caught fire pretty quickly," said Bagley. Bagley was chosen to be the second person to light the AWG Caldron since Alaskan Olympian Rosie Fletcher was handed the torch from some of the those original volunteers who made the Games a reality.
The theme for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games was "Release the Spirit Within," but the stainless steel caldron, designed and built in Alaska by Lyn Johnson of Dowland Bach in Anchorage, became the legacy for the thousands of volunteers, sponsors, athletes and nations that came here in 2006 for the "Best Games Ever". Last fall the caldron was professionally mounted at its new resting place upon a giant Ulu in front the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building as a symbol and reminder of what can be accomplished in a small community with a big heart according to Borough Mayor David Carey. "We wanted to re-light the caldron not just to dedicate its new location and remember that amazing community achievement, but to look to the future of our own Peninsula Winter Games and the wonderful event those games have become for our youth and winter visitors to the Peninsula," said Carey. "At the opposite end of the Borough building we have the beautiful ice sculpture done for the Peninsula Winter Games and a true 'Fire & Ice' theme when we light the caldron each year," he added.
The Mayor then presented Bagley with an award of all the collectors' pins from the 2006 AWG. "He of course led the Games as the president of the Host Society and was the one who got it all started, and I've been waiting for over a year to present him with this memento and remembrance of the Games," said Carey. When asked the single most vivid memory of the entire AWG effort, most who assembled for the re-lighting of the caldron agreed that it was the day the International Committee made their first trip to the Peninsula to tour the facilities. "That day stands out over all the rest. We had people lined up from the airport to KCHS chanting "We Want the Games," and waving signs, I feel that was when we sealed the deal," commented Carey. "The International Committee later said they had never seen that kind of community spirit and enthusiasm displayed by a community bidding for the Games ever in the history of the Arctic Winter Games. It got us the Games and then the work began to deliver what we had on paper and in spirit, with the help of the School District and over 3,000 volunteers, we did it, it was great," said Bagley. March 6-13, 2010 the 21st Arctic Winter Games will be hosted in Grande Prairie, Alberta Canada. For more AWG information go to www.awg2010.org . To learn about Alaskan athletes competing in the coming games go to www.awg.teamalaska.org.
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