KAMLOOPS — The local B.C. Winter Games committee was busy on Thursday welcoming athletes and coaches coming in from across the province, a day before competition begins.
"Anytime you host an event in the city, it really brings community together," said B.C. Winter Games President Niki Remesz. "There's no price you can put on the way community can feel when there's gathering and you're looking for a greater cause."
WATCH: Kamloops busy with B.C. Winter Games athletes
With roughly 1,700 athletes, coaches and officials, not to mention parents, Remesz noted the economic spinoff of the Games is $1.6 million.
"Although athletes stay in the dorms and it's a giant slumber party, all their fans, supporters and parents are in town, plus all of our special guests," she said. "Putting heads in beds, eating at our restaurants, supporting our suppliers, so it's a real economic boom for Kamloops."
The Games achieved its goal of attracting nearly 2,000 volunteers, who were busy at work on Thursday registering athletes. George Fudge, a long-time volunteer in Kamloops, was outside in the bitter cold helping coordinate transportation for athletes to and from their dorms.
"Chaos, that's the best word. But I think it's organized chaos," said Fudge in describing the thousands of athletes being bused in and out of McArthur Island. "I look after the luggage, which means at the airport last night we met two flights, took their luggage up to South Kamloops where they stayed overnight, picked them up this morning, brought them back down here. Now we have buses coming from all over 33 buses, plus we've got the school buses."
The 74-year-old former City of Kamloops employee can't count how many events at which he's volunteered. The spirit of sport keeps him going.
"The sports are so much fun to watch," said Fudge. "Sports have been a big part of my life. It is exciting to watch them and you'll see them in all kinds of things."
The opening ceremony begins at 7 p.m. tonight with the preshow at 6:30. It's free to the public, and with only 1,500 people committed, there is lots of room for people to walk up and enjoy the festivities.
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