Re­gain­ing the torch

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Those who were around for the 1992 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games will re­call the ex­u­ber­ance that filled the air over The Car­bon­ear Recre­ation Com­plex on Aug. 15 of that year when more than 5,000 spec­ta­tors turned out for the open­ing cer­e­monies.

The large crowd burst into wild ap­plause when for­mer hockey great Ge­orge Faulkner lit the flame to of­fi­cially open the Games.

Premier Clyde Wells shared the stage that day with the pa­tron of the ’92 Sum­mer Games, Frank Moores, who was premier when the first pro­vin­cial Games were held in 1976.

For­mer Har­bour Grace mayor Paul Mo­ri­arty said: “ We have si­lenced the skep­tics, who couldn’t imag­ine two ri­val towns com­ing to­gether in a spirit of co-op­er­a­tion to stage such an event as this for the ben­e­fit of the cit­i­zens of both. We have shown ... the whole of New­found­land and Labrador that noth­ing takes prece­dence over the youth of our towns.”

Chair­ing the host com­mit­tee for the ’ 92 Games turned out to be the “ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time” for Doug Moores of Har­bour Grace. “I’ll never for­get it,” he told the crowd that day. Af­ter six days of com­pe­ti­tion, then lieu­tenant-gover­nor Fred Rus­sell was on hand for the clos­ing cer­e­monies on St. Francis Field in Har­bour Grace.

The ex­cite­ment in the air was mixed with a hint of sad­ness as ath­letes bid farewell to their com­peti­tors and the new friends they had made.

Some of those on hand that day re­al­ized the Games was an his­toric event that might never again be seen in the area in their life­time.

It was a feel­ing that did not es­cape the lieu­tenant­gov­er­nor. The clos­ing of any event is al­ways tinged with a de­gree of sad­ness, “ but that feel­ing should be eased some­what, be­cause I feel cer­tain you have enough happy mem­o­ries to last a life­time.”

De­scrib­ing the Games as an “out­stand­ing suc­cess,” he ob­served, “the suc­cess of the Games here has cer­tainly strength­ened their foun­da­tion.”

We were re­minded of all of those words and mo­ments and a lot more last week when it was an­nounced that the New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games would be re­turn­ing to Car­bon­ear and Har­bour Grace in 2012, ex­actly 20 years af­ter the first.

While there will be sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two events, there are al­ready strik­ing dif­fer­ences.

For open­ers, only a frac­tion of the fund­ing spent on the 1992 event will be avail­able this time around.

Thanks to the sports fa­cil­i­ties left be­hind from the first Games, the kind of big bucks spent on in­fra­struc­ture at that time will not be needed this time around. But it will be a great op­por­tu­nity for some cos­metic up­grades to those fa­cil­i­ties, which were de­scribed at the time as “the envy of the prov­ince and sec­ond to none in Canada.”

That was part of the great legacy left be­hind by the 1992 event.

An­other stark con­trast this time around is the time­frame.

The host com­mit­tee which put to­gether the 1992 event had al­most four years to work on them, hav­ing first learned the next Sum­mer Games ball would be in their court just af­ter the 1988 Sum­mer Games in Mount Pearl.

This time around the com­mit­tee, yet to be put in place, have roughly 18 months be­fore the flame-light­ing cer­e­mony.

The 1,500 young ath­letes from all over the prov­ince who com­peted in the last Games were fed at the CBN Curl­ing Club and Car­bon­ear Lions Den. With nei­ther of those fa­cil­i­ties any longer avail­able, cater­ing to the ath­letes next year is ex­pected to present a chal­lenge.

More than 1,400 vol­un­teers helped make the 1992 Games the suc­cess they were.

Doug Moores, who led that group at that time, be­lieves enough ded­i­cated vol­un­teers are still out there, ready, will­ing and able to get in­volved and make this event an­other suc­cess.

Since last week’s an­nounce­ment, the num­ber of peo­ple call­ing Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs and ex­press­ing in­ter­est in vol­un­teer­ing would con­firm that be­lief.

De­spite the con­straints of time and money, and the chal­lenges of find­ing suit­able cater­ing fa­cil­i­ties, we are con­fi­dent the 2012 Sum­mer Games will be an­other suc­cess.

The best of luck to all those who will lace up their sneak­ers as vol­un­teers and ath­letes for the 2012 NL Sum­mer Games.

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