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Games kick-off Thursday

“We’re ready!” Those are the words of Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games chair Gerry St. Pierre with the Games slated to start this Thursday.

“We’re ready!”

Those are the words of Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games chair Gerry St. Pierre with the Games slated to start this Thursday.

More than 1,000 athletes are converging on the communities of Westlock and Barrhead for the Games, which run July 25-28 at venues all across the two counties.

Hosting the Games has been a two-year process that started in earnest on March 23, 2011, when representatives from the provincial Games committee toured the four municipalities to get a feel for how Westlock and Barrhead would handle hosting such an event.

From that date, it took less than two months before the Games were awarded to the region. Former Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Ken Kowalski made the announcement at the Westlock Golden Age drop-in centre on May 19, 2011.

Events scheduled for the four-day festivities include sporting events like golf, swimming, tennis and slo-pitch, as well as less intensive, although still competitive events like cribbage, military whist and contract bridge. Westlock and Barrhead are located within Zone 5, along with communities like Hinton, St. Albert, Redwater and Leduc. In total there are 148 athletes representing the zone at the Games.

During the opening ceremonies on July 25 in Westlock, Pickardville resident and cribbage competitor Richard Nadeau will be a banner carrier, leading the zone’s athletes into the Westlock Rotary Spirit Centre.

Although the athletes are there to compete, St. Pierre said they won’t be bored once their events are over.

“There are a lot of extra things for them to see and do,” he said, explaining there will be a North Central Alberta Baseball League game between the Westlock Red Lions and the Stony Plain Mets on July 26 at 7:15 p.m., as well as a coffee house, drum circle and social dance.

In addition, the entries from the cultural component of the Games will be on display for viewing at the Barrhead curling rink Thursday through Saturday.

“We’re making sure if they want to do something, there will be plenty for them to do,” St. Pierre said.

With the Games nearly here, he said he feels he and the rest of the board of directors are ready to get them over with.

“I think now we’re at the point where there’s a feeling of we’re anxious for it to be here and to be over,” St. Pierre said. “But because of the friends we made and the co-operation between Barrhead and Westlock, it’s going to be a little bit of a letdown when it’s all over. We’ve worked so closely together and got along so well that I’m sure we’re going to miss some of that camaraderie.”

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