A long evening for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly began with Mayor Mike Navarre proclaiming “A Day of Celebration” commemorating the 10th Anniversary of hosting the prestigious 2006 Arctic Winter Games (AWG). The AWG was founded in 1969 under the leadership of AK Governor Walter Hickel, Stuart Hodgens, commissioner of the Northwest Territories and Yukon Commissioner James Smith. Since then the AWG have become the world’s largest circumpolar celebration of sports and culture event for young people of the arctic, bring over 2,000 athletes from nine contingents participating. In celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the 2006 AWG hosted by the Kenai Peninsula mascot “Rascal” the raven did a fly by to congratulate Peninsula members of Team Alaska and the veteran volunteers of the 2006 Games and then Borough Mayor Dale Bagley whose vision it was for the Peninsula to host the international event.
Former AWG 2006 event manager, Seldovia city manager and president of Team Alaska Tim Dillon also traveled to Borough Hall to receive the official proclamation and honor the 3,000 some volunteers who made the event a great success. At the celebration that followed at the Sports Complex, Dillon recalled the last time he was at the facility during closing ceremonies, “It was an interesting time. When I arrived on the scene in early 2005 we had some great volunteers who were looking how to take the next step to pull the event together. Everyone jumped in with a what can I do? How can I help? attitude and that seemed to birth the spirit that came to define the 2006 Games. It lit something in everyone’s belly and ten years later that spirit of volunteerism you still see across the Peninsula from Seward to Homer and everywhere in between that defines this community. It shows that an international event like the AWG of sport and culture can make a lasting impact to transfer and unify a community,” said Dillon.
Addressing the Anniversary event Dillon said that the 2006 Games are still a bench mark for host societies as they strive to meet the volunteer effort of the Peninsula, “It’s a real tribute to the community and how hard they worked, but it’s not just how hard they worked, because some of it was effortless and that is where the magic of the community took over, the hospitality, the warmth to those of foreign nations and cultures to share what we have in common in the north. I’m glad I was asked to come down and be part of the Games and it’s been my home ever since,” said Dillon.
Having recently returned from the 2016 AWG in Greenland Dillon was proud of Team Alaska and the 200 some medals they came home with including the prestigious Hodgson trophy for fair play and team spirit. Team Alaska was made up of 243 participants this year with 11 coming from the Kenai Peninsula. “This is the first international competition these kids have had or may ever have a chance to attend and it’s a life changing experience for them. I sat next to 14 year old girl from a rural Alaskan village who had never been out of the state in her life and we were on our way to Greenland where the AWG experience has inspired her to go to do things she never would have thought possible. It was Wally Hickel’s vision when he helped create the AWG and it continues as a legacy for young Alaskans,” said Dillon