Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster lights the Countdown to the B.C. Winter Games in Greater Vernon torch at a special ceremony Friday night at Vernon's Spirit Square in the city hall complex.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster lights the Countdown to the B.C. Winter Games in Greater Vernon torch at a special ceremony Friday night at Vernon's Spirit Square in the city hall complex.

B.C. Games shining bright in Greater Vernon

Official ceremony launches countdown to sports extravaganza

Connie Kapak was nervous for three weeks.

Given the honour of being the final torch bearer for the Greater Vernon Countdown to the B.C. Winter Games ceremony Friday at Spirit Square, before passing the torch to Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, Kapak, a Vernon speed skating phenom, had one goal in mind.

“I didn’t want to stumble,” laughed the amiable 12-year-old Grade 7 Harwood Elementary student, who rarely stumbles on the ice.

She had to negotiate some icy and snowy conditions as she approached the cauldron on a chilly evening.

Kapak ran the torch in while a song written and recorded specifically for the B.C. Winter Games by Vernon’s Andrew Allen, You’re Time To Shine, blared over the speakers.

Kapak was asked three weeks ago to be the one to pass the torch to Foster, after a torch relay began from the Village Green Hotel and made its way to Spirit Square. Kapak, used to skating and not running, ran past the crowd of approximately 200 to a thunderous applause before passing off to Foster.

The MLA had the honour of lighting the LED torch Friday night to signal 100 days (actually 96) to the start of the Games in Greater Vernon and Armstrong Feb. 23-26.

“It was good,” said Kapak of her run. “It only took me about 10 seconds to say yes when they asked me.”

Kapak expects to be competing in speed skating at the Games.

Vernon native and Global TV anchor Randene Neill, whose parents were at the ceremony, served as emcee for the event, which included dignitaries, games directors and sponsors, among those executives from Black Press, one of the Games’ biggest boosters.

Neill expects the Games in her hometown to be the best ever, thanks to its residents.

“Thanks to all of you, the success of all of the Games are because of volunteers,” said Neill. “I met a lot of volunteers today, and you’re all amazing. It’s overwhelming to me how much work you’re putting into this.”

Foster not only officially lit the countdown torch, he presented local organizing president Akbal Mund with a cheque for $100,000, part of the government’s commitment to the event.

“It’s going to be a great time and as Mayor Wayne Lippert said, it’s going to be a chance for the North Okanagan to shine,” said Foster. “They’re going to come back because we are the most wonderful hosts in the area.”

Given the biggest cheer of the night, Mund praised all of the volunteers who were decked out in different coloured Games’ jackets, and looked forward to inviting the province to the North Okanagan.

“The Games will have a great economic impact on our area, and it will be great to have everybody here in our city,” said Mund. “When the kids get here, let’s cheer them on, win or lose, it’s not about that, it’s about having fun.”

Okanagan Indian Band elder Virginia Gregoire blessed the ceremony with a traditional prayer while Chief Byron Louis and Lippert also extended welcomes and thanks for being part of the Games.

Well-known singer Melina Moore and her son, Justin, sang O Canada in English and French.

People who attended the ceremony enjoyed free barbecue hamburgers, root beer, hot chocolate and a big bonfire to help stay warm.

Among those who came early was Vernon’s Sheila Sovereign, who participated in the B.C. Summer Games in the 1980s, and also served as a volunteer with the 1982 B.C. Summer Games in Vernon.

“I wanted to come down and support the Games,” said Sovereign, who also supported her friend, local artist Heidi Maddess who is serving as a Games host. “I’m excited that we will be having the Games in our area.”

More than 1,000 volunteers for the Games have already signed up but more are needed.

The Games’ office is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sign up or to purchase Games souvenir clothing.

—Vernon Morning Star

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

Volunteers paint the famous Denman Island Graffiti Fence with messages for Earth Week. Photo by Danni Crenna
Denman Island celebrates Earth Week

The Denman Island Climate Action Network (DICAN) has kicked off Earth Week… Continue reading

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Most Read