Photo By Jahnie Triplet
Meeting the needs of the thousands of athletes, performers, and guests gathered on Kenai Peninsula for the Arctic Winter Games is no easy task. Making the job easier are the 2,800 volunteers who will assist in every aspect of the Games’ operation. More than 1,600 of those volunteers attended a two-hour training session February 18 at Kenai Central High School.
“People ask me if the games will be a success,” said games general manager Tim Dillon. “I tell them they already are, because of people like you.”
Dale Bagley, president of the Games host society, acknowledged the impact of the thousands of people expected here for the games. “Traffic will be bad and restaurants will be full,” he noted, “but you’ll probably cry at the closing ceremonies.”
Dave Carey, a host society Games official and Soldotna mayor, told the group that enthusiasm and motivation will get them through the long days of volunteer service, and led them in a chant: “We want the games. We got the games. We are the games!”
Glen Szymoniak, co-chair of the Games’ Care and Comfort Division, discussed the critical incident plan. While he acknowledged the federal government has expended resources for cameras and badges, “Our greatest concern is not terrorism; it’s natural events like volcanoes and earthquakes, things we’re used to preparing for anyway.” A chain of command is in place, and in the event of an emergency, each volunteer have a team leader to report to. “It will be a case of following orders,” said Szymoniak.
Emergencies aside, “Friendships developing in the circumpolar region are the main thing. You’re the emissaries,” said Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman during the volunteer event. He said that when peoples of countries become friends, “They don’t fight each other.”
The highlight of the volunteer gathering was to have been the unveiling of the Games cauldron, from which the ceremonial flame will burn throughout the games. But at nine-feet high and 1,100 pounds, it was too massive to fit through the high school doors. Instead, photos of the cauldron were displayed, and mini-cauldrons were presented to Borough Mayor John Williams, former Borough Mayor Bagley, Carey, and Leman.
Volunteers then met with their team leaders to receive credential badges and official jackets, vests and gloves. For easy recognition during the games, the uniforms are color-coded by volunteer category: yellow for security, red for medical, orange for transportation, teal for special guest, green for sports, black for sports officials, blue for general volunteers, and a different blue for media committee volunteers. Of the nearly 2,800 registered volunteers, only 50 are from out of state.
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