Thousands of visitors are expected to arrive for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games in a few weeks. Many will come with questions, wondering not only about the Games and how their favorite team is doing, but also about simple things like, “Is it OK to park here?” or “Where’s the bathroom?”
Kathy Gensel knows the answers 1,146 of them to be exact.
Gensel is the Games board member responsible for coordinating the directional signage.
A glance at the list of signs needed for the Games gives an idea of what visitors will want and need to know: Waxing Area, Red Cross, No Parking, Men’s Restroom, Women’s Restroom with the appropriate international male and female symbols Security, Wrestling, Fire Exit.
Because many of the guests will be visiting from non-English speaking countries, some of the signs have to be multilingual, Gensel said.
“We have signs in English, Russian, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish,” she said.
When asked about signs in the language of the Sami visitors a nomadic people from a region bordering Scandinavia Gensel said it is her understanding that the Sami language is a dialect of one of the Scandinavian languages.
The 1,000-plus signs that once filled a large meeting room at the Games headquarters in the Kenai PRISM fire training center building have now gone out to the committees that will actually need the signs, Gensel said.
The various committees include sports, cultural, transportation, security, medical, merchandise and ticket sales.
Gensel also said the Games’ officials on the Kenai Peninsula are fortunate in that they were able to purchase a large number of the needed signs from Games’ hosts in Wood Buffalo, Alberta, Canada, where they were conducted in 2004.
“They were in great shape ... . We just put our logo over theirs. Some had a little mud on them we had to clean off, but they were great,” Gensel said.
She was unable to say how much money was saved by purchasing the used signs, but she did say peninsula organizers hope to sell the signs to the next host of the Games for further economic gain. The 2008 Games will be in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Kenai organizers also were able to purchase flags of the participating nations from Wood Buffalo Games officials.
In addition to all the directional signs needed for the Games, venue and sponsor signs also are needed, and most of the sponsors are providing their own signs, Gensel said.
The directional signs, which Gensel described as “corrugated plastic,” will begin going up in the Games’ venues mostly in Kenai Peninsula Borough schools beginning March 2.
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