The North Okanagan is primed for a big shindig.
Greater Vernon and Armstrong/Spallumcheen are ready to host more than 3,600 participants for the 55+ B.C. Games. Competition starts Wednesday.
“This will give Vernon and Armstrong a chance to be great hosts,” said Games president Wee Yee. “We’re going to put on a big party and have lots of people coming.”
Vernon hosted the first Games – formerly called the B.C. Seniors Games – 30 years ago in 1988. Those Games featured 600 participants.
Three decades later and the number has swelled in terms of athletes and events.
Competition in the 32 sports begins Wednesday morning with the official opening ceremonies taking place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.
There will be 287 pickleball players; 231 golfers; 371 dragon boat racers; and hockey will feature 452 players to the point that Games officials have added some competition at the Vernon Civic Arena, to go along with Kal Tire Place, Priest Valley Arena and Armstrong’s Nor-Val Sports Centre, because they needed more ice.
There will be 25 players participating in the new sport of bocce at the newly created Games’ courts at Polson Park, and there will be 12 taking part in another new Games sport: squash.
There will be two-legged and four-legged athletes competing out in Armstrong at the IPE grounds in equestrian.
“This is a sport that’s been brought back to the Games and we were expecting about 40 people. Instead, we will have 100,” said Yee. “That’s phenomenal.”
An on-call vet will be available in case there are issues with the horses, and each sport and venue will have medical support courtesy of St. John’s Ambulance.
Away from competition, there will be an indoor and outdoor athletes village at the Vernon Recreation Complex which will feature sponsors’ booths, souvenirs and more.
There will be a downtown social for the athletes Thursday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“Right on 30th Avenue, there will be about four blocks closed off to traffic and we will feature a Taste of the Okanagan,” said Yee. “We will share the bounty that we have in our region; the wineries, the orchards – Davison Orchards is giving an apple to every competitor – Planet Bee will be there, so will Rancho Vignola.
“It will feature the unique, individual businesses we have around here.”
There will also be a dance at the rec complex Friday from 6 to 11 p.m.
The closing ceremonies are slated for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Complex.
A delegation from the 2018 55-Plus B.C. Games committee in Cranbrook/Kimberley will also be on hand to observe how things go in Vernon/Armstrong.
For a full list of events, which also take place in Armstrong, visit 55plusgames.ca, and see the special Games section in today’s newspaper.
GAMES VENUES AT A GLANCE
Archery (Armstrong Archers, 1428 Reservoir Road), Thursday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. each day);
Cycling (Time Trial, Otter Lake Road, Thursday 9 a.m.; Road Race, Grandview Flats Road South, Friday, 9 a.m.; Hill Climb, Salmon River Road, Saturday, 8 a.m.);
Darts (Armstrong Curling Club, Wednesday to Friday 9 a.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.);
Equestrian (IPE Equestrian Grounds, Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. each day);
Golf (Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club, Thursday and Friday, 7:3o a.m. each day);
Ice Hockey (Nor-Val Sports Centre, games start Wednesday at 8 a.m., Thursday at 9:30 a.m., Friday at 8 a.m., and Saturday at 9:45 a.m.);
Table Tennis (Hassen Arena, Wednesday and Thursday 8 a.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.);
Badminton (Vernon Secondary School, Wednesday to Saturday 8 a.m. each day);
Bocce (Polson Park, Thursday 8:30 a.m., Friday 9 a.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m.);
Bridge (Duplicate and Social, Schubert Centre, Thursday and Friday 9 a.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m.);
Carpet Bowling (Dogwood Gym, Vernon Rec Centre, Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m.);
Cribbage (Schubert Centre, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.);
Dragon Boat Racing (Kalamalka Lake Beach, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.);
Five Pin Bowling (Lincoln Lanes, Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m., Friday 8:45 a.m., Saturday 7:15 a.m.);
Floor Curling (Halina Centre, Vernon Rec Centre, Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m.);
Golf (Vernon Golf and Country Club, Thursday and Friday, 7:30 a.m.);
Horseshoes (Alexis Park, Thursday and Friday, 8:30 a.m.);
Ice Curling (Vernon Curling Club, Wednesday 7:30 a.m., Thursday 8 a.m., Friday 9:30 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m.);
Ice Hockey (Kal Tire Place: Thursday 9:30 a.m., Friday 8 a.m., Saturday 9:45 a.m.; Vernon Civic Arena: Wednesday, 8 a.m.; Priest Valley Arena, Wednesday 8 a.m., Thursday 9:30 a.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m.);
Lawn Bowling (Vernon Lawn Bowling Club, Thursday to Saturday, 8 a.m.);
Mountain Bike Racing (Ellison Provincial Park, Thursday, 8:30 a.m., Friday 9 a.m.);
Pickleball (Priest Valley Gym, Clarence Fulton Secondary School, Kalamalka Secondary School, W.L. Seaton Secondary School, Wednesday to Saturday, 7:45 a.m.);
Slo Pitch (DND Army Camp Fields, Wednesday to Friday, 9 a.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.);
Soccer Men’s and Women’s (Marshall Field, Wednesday to Saturday, 9 a.m.);
Squash (Roster Sports Club, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.);
Swimming (Vernon Aquatic Centre at Vernon Recreation Centre, Thursday to Saturday, 8 a.m.);
Tennis (Kalavista Tennis Court, Paddlewheel Park, Marshall Field, Wednesday to Saturday 9 a.m.; Polson Park and Sawicki Millennium Park, Wednesday to Friday, 9 a.m.);
Track and Field (Greater Vernon Athletic Park, Wednesday to Friday, 9 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m.);
Athletics Road Race (Kalamalka Lake Lookout, Saturday 9 a.m.);
Whist (Schubert Centre, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.)