Ontario 55+ Summer Games co-hosted by Amherstburg and Windsor

Flagbearers parade into the Libro Centre’s indoor soccer facility for last Tuesday night’s opening ceremonies Aug. 19.

Flagbearers parade into the Libro Centre’s indoor soccer facility for last Tuesday night’s opening ceremonies Aug. 19.

Richard Fitzgibbon participates in the horsehoe event Aug. 20.

Richard Fitzgibbon participates in the horsehoe event Aug. 20.

Peter Dobbs from Thunder Bay participates in the shuffleboard competition last Wednesday at the Libro Centre.

Peter Dobbs from Thunder Bay participates in the shuffleboard competition last Wednesday at the Libro Centre.

Walkers head down Fort Malden Dr. as they compete in the Aug. 21 final.

Walkers head down Fort Malden Dr. as they compete in the Aug. 21 final.

By Ron Giofu

The 2014 Ontario 55+ Summer Games have come and gone with Windsor and Amherstburg being the first communities ever to co-host the games.

The opening ceremonies took place last Tuesday evening at the Libro Centre with events continuing last Wednesday and Thursday with closing ceremonies at Caesars Windsor Thursday night. The games saw nine events in Amherstburg and nine more in Windsor with other Amherstburg venues in addition to the Libro Centre include Fort Malden, Centennial and Wigle Parks, Fox Glen Golf Club, and the Verdi Club.

Participants from across Ontario represented the 43 regions that make up the Ontario Senior Games Association (OSGA). Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex County Pelee Island (TWEPI), acted as master of ceremonies for the opening ceremonies and said there were 1,143 participants taking part in the Ontario 55+ Summer Games with thousands of meals and hotel rooms to be served and occupied respectively during the week.

“It’s a wonderful injection into the economy and the tourism industry appreciates it,” he said.

Cathy Vincelli, board member with Sport Alliance Ontario, thanked the roughly 400 volunteers that helped to put the games on and also credited the participants for making it to the provincial competition.

“You have all worked extremely hard and we’d like to congratulate you on your accomplishments,” she told the participants.

Organizing committee co-chairs Tim Beaulieu and Calvin Little also credited the nearly 400 volunteers as well as their committee.

“Staging an event of this size, you can’t do it alone,” said Beaulieu.

Beaulieu said volunteers aimed to present “games you will never forget,” adding “I couldn’t be prouder of the job they’ve done.”

Little noted while the games are competitive, the organizing committee wanted participants to also have “a great social experience” and make lasting friendships during their time in Windsor and Amherstburg. They also hope that out-of-town participants will eventually return to the region for visits.

Mayor Wayne Hurst brought greetings from Amherstburg and credited Little and Beaulieu for doing “an outstanding job in putting this together.” He too praised volunteers for their efforts in staging the Ontario 55+ Summer Games as well as the participants for advancing to these provincial games.

“We appreciate you taking the time and making an effort to participate in the Ontario 55+ Summer Games,” said Hurst.

Windsor city councillor Ron Jones added the games are another example of Amherstburg and Windsor partnering.

“Windsor and Amherstburg have a long history of working together,” said Jones. “It makes me proud.”

Richard Fitzgibbon, who participated in horseshoes with wife Marian, came in from Elmont for the games. It was the fifth Ontario 55+ Summer Games for the couple. He said the whole idea is to pack as much competition into the days as possible so he said he didn’t see as much of the area during the games as he may have liked. He added it was too soon to say whether they would come back down to this area.

Andy and Joyce Broersma of Minden said the most they usually see of Windsor-Essex County is when they travel through it en route to Florida every winter.

“They’ve taught us more of the area,” Andy joked.

The Broersmas, both shuffleboard players, said they enjoy the game but had to earn their way to the games.

“I love shuffleboard,” added Joyce. “I go in any tournament I can because I like the competitive aspect of it.”

Andy added they get to see people they hadn’t seen since the last games.

Nancy Reid of Keswick said the area looked nice but said last Wednesday she was busy with her shuffleboard colleagues at the Libro Centre most of the day. It was her first visit to Amherstburg.

“So far, it’s great,” she said. “All the volunteers are super.”

Zella Gionet of Thunder Bay said she liked the area and the amount of water that surrounds Windsor-Essex County caught her eye.

“It’s beautiful here,” said Gionet.

More about the games, including full results, can be found at www.ontario55plussummergames.com.

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