COLUMN: A successful Summer Games in Surrey

The city was the perfect venue to hold the event.

The 2012 B.C. Summer Games in Surrey were a tremendous success over the weekend.

Over 2,300 athletes, along with coaches, parents and others, were in Surrey for the event – which takes place every two years – and they had a great opportunity to see just how many fine athletic facilities this community has to offer. They took part in more than 20 different sports.

Despite some miserable conditions on Friday, the weather was decent for most of the weekend and those involved enjoyed themselves tremendously.

A big acknowledgement must go to the many volunteers – more than 3,000 – who made these Games possible, because it is a lot of work and it takes a lot of people for it to all come to fruition.

The volunteers devoted a lot of time and energy to making this event happen, and all those who benefited owe them a debt of gratitude.

Most people who volunteer at events like this say taking part is a big reward in itself.

Surrey hosted the Summer Games back in 1989, but it’s been a long time between these events and much has changed in the interval.

For one thing, the city is much larger and much more multicultural.

It  also has many more updated athletic facilities than it did back then.

A very important part of each Games is the opening and closing ceremonies, and this year’s were very significant. In fact, they were unique because never before have the Games coincided with a large event like the Surrey Fusion Festival, which annually attracts about 100,000 people to Holland Park.

The closing ceremonies were an integral part of this year’s Fusion Festival, and must have been quite an eye-opener for the many Games participants from outside the immediate Vancouver area.

They had a chance to see how multicultural Surrey is, and how people of many races, cultures and religions respect one another and celebrate their differences.

They also likely got a better sense of just how many young people live in Surrey.

About one-third of Surrey’s population is under 25 – far more than in Vancouver and likely higher than any other city in the province. Many young people took part in either the Games or the Fusion Festival.

One of the great strengths of the Summer Games is that they afford young people the opportunity to meet other young people who excel in their particular sport, from other parts of the province.

The Games also allow people from all parts of B.C. to get to know a city and region better.

They have been going for a long time, since 1978. They have helped bring B.C., a very diverse province with many different geographic areas and varied people groups, closer together.

Surrey, as one of the largest cities in the province and one of the most diverse, is an excellent place to hold the Games.

It represents much of B.C.’s future, with its growth, diversity, youth and enthusiasm.

It’s the kind of city that makes B.C. such an interesting place to live.

The next Summer Games will be held in Nanaimo, and the 2014 Winter Games will be closer to home than usual, in Mission.

It’s good that the Games were such a success in Surrey.

Let’s hope they are back again within the next 10 to 15 years.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.