KAMLOOPS — Twenty-five years ago Kamloops hosted an event that would help shape this city's identity.
The 1993 Canada Summer games brought thousands of athletes to the Kamloops between August 6 and 22, many of whom would go on to have impressive professional careers.
It was the biggest sporting event the city had ever hosted at that time, and 25 years later the city is still reaping benefits from the tournament.
"Everyone in the area, TNRD, they knew that this was an opportunity to see Kamloops shine and create the type of impression that would provide long lasting benefits," said Vic Poleschuk, president of the 1993 Kamloops Canada Games Society. "And it has, the legacies have been terrific coming from the games."
At the time Kamloops had a population of around 70,000, and was the smallest community to bid on the games.
"We came out in full force," said Kim Cassar Torreggiani, marketing manager for the 1993 games, "and people will remember we lined the streets all wearing blue and gold, all the way from the airport, literally the streets were lined, all the way into town, and the bid committee from Canada Games Council that was here that day was literally blown away."
That enthusiasm carried through to the more than 8,000 volunteers who gave their time to ensure spectators and athletes were well looked after during the games.
"That proved that we really are capable of hosting an event of a national standard, and we've continued to do that ever since the Canada Games. It really started back then, and I think it's changed the fabric of the community," said Cassar Torreggiani.
Several sporting facilities came out of the games - including the Hillside Stadium track, the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, and the Canada Games Baseball Field.
These facilities have become a training ground for world-class local athletes.
"You have folks like Dylan Armstrong, who was young at the time but was able to avail himself of all of the facilities that were left behind as a result of the games," Poleschuk said. "Kelly Olynyk, who obviously didn't play in the games, but went to school here, did basketball programs here and (went) on to stardom."
Music in the Park also has its roots in the 1993 Summer Games, which makes the Rotary bandshell and Riverside Park the perfect location to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the event.
"We're so excited to bring everyone who is involved, volunteers and staff, down to Music in the Park tonight at 6 p.m," said Cassar Torreggiani. "It will be a really wonderful time to think back to that event that was just so important to so many of us."
Those planning to attend are encouraged to dig out their old canada games shirts or pins, and wear them to the celebration.
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