By Daniel Larios
December 5, 2014 –Santa Monica will serve as a Host Town for the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015), Santa Monica and Special Olympics officials announced Thursday during an event at ICE at Santa Monica.
As a Host Town, Santa Monica will house Special Olympics athletic delegations from all over the world and showcase many of the city’s attractions, including Pacific Park on the Pier, the Third Street Promenade, the beach and the main business districts.
|Special Olympics Officials Presents the City of Santa Monica with a Host Town Flag. Photo by Daniel Larios.
“Santa Monica’s Host Town participants will receive a warm welcome from residents and visitors to our community and as our hosted guests, will surely enjoy visiting and training for their sport in our great seaside destination,” said Misti Kerns, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Their trip will be punctuated with playtime on the beach, shopping in uniquely Santa Monica stores and enjoying the dining delights of many local hotspots.”
Held on a partly cloudy day after a two-day storm, the event featured athletes as well as volunteers, local sponsors and city officials who came out to celebrate Santa Monica’s status as a Host Town.
“We welcome the opportunity to showcase the best of Santa Monica to our visiting athletes, from our beaches and pier to our bustling boardwalk and dynamic downtown,” said Mayor Pro Tem Terry O’Day.
O’Day presented the Special Olympics officials with a proclamation welcoming the Games and proclaiming the week of July 21 to July 25 2015 as Santa Monica Host Town Days.
|Mayor Pro Tem Terry O'Day presents Games officials with a Proclamation from the City. Photo by Daniel Larios.
Patrick McClenahan, president and CEO of LA2015, the governing committee for the Games, presented the City with a Special Olympics Host Town flag.
“This will be the largest event that Los Angeles and this region has hosted since the 1984 Olympics and I truly believe it will be the most truly inspirational of all time in this region,” said McClenahan, whose daughter suffers from Cerebral Palsy.
“The theme of our bid was in a city full of movie stars and all stars, the [Special Olympics] athletes will be the stars of this show.”
The keynote speaker was Debi Anderson, the Special Olympics World Games global messenger and board member who has also participated in the Games for 13 years as a gold-medal winning runner.
“Santa Monica is in for a big treat next year,” Anderson said. “And in closing, I say to you: the world is coming, are you?”
The Host Town program is seen as an important part of the Games since 1995, with the experience leaving a lasting impression on local communities in previous host countries, including Ireland, Japan, China, Greece, South Korea and the United States, according to officials.
Communities who wish to be a part of the Host Town program are evaluated on the availability of lodging accommodations, sports practice facilities and recreation and entertainment offerings for the athletes, among other things.
Host Towns are also responsible for planning activities for the athletes to introduce them to the community and help spread the word about the Games.
Other officially proclaimed Host Towns includes Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Glendale, Palm Springs, Irvine, Downey, Whittier, Pasadena, Inglewood, Alhambra, Monterey Park, South Pasadena and Hermosa Beach, among others.
More Host Town selections will be announced in the coming weeks.
The event will draw 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators.
The games will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region, starting with the Opening Ceremony July 25, 2015 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
ESPN will broadcast the games to millions of fans around the world, according to officials.
The Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts.
Local sponsors include the City of Santa Monica, Pacific Park, Downtown Santa Monica Inc. and the Santa Monica Visitors and Tourism Bureau, among others.
Santa Monica venues that will be showcased include the Annenberg Community Beach House, the Promenade, Montana Avenue, Main Street, the solar-powered Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel, the Santa Monica Pier, the Original Muscle Beach, the Santa Monica Boardwalk and Palisades Park.
For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.LA2015.org and on social with #TheWorldisComing @LA2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.