2015 Pan Am Games: Two-year countdown to Toronto Games

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pan Am Games organizers held community events across southern Ontario on Wednesday to raise awareness and excitement about the 2015 Games.

“Let’s celebrate, because there really is a lot to celebrate,” Roger Garland, chairman of TO2015 board, said at Wednesday’s event in downtown Toronto.

While he and a full cast of political and sport VIPs made speeches marking the two-year countdown to the Games, Jason Burnett, a silver medallist in trampoline from the Beijing Olympics, kept kids enthralled with his sky-high jumps.

Other events from Welland and St. Catharines to Oshawa and Ajax featured Olympians, sport demonstrations and celebrations of art and culture.

The 2015 Pan Am Games, centered in Toronto, will be the largest multi-sport event hosted in Canada. There will be more athletes, sports and venues than the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. But the appeal of the Games goes well beyond sport, artist David Arrigo said.

“It goes back to the origins of the Games. They weren’t strictly about athleticism, it was an enjoyment of culture and the fact that we can bring all these different avenues together,” he said.

His murals, which mix athletes, sports and architecture and culture from the host cities, formed the background of Wednesday’s stage.

“I didn’t realize coming into this event how large it is,” said Arrigo, who is known for his paintings on NHL goalie masks.

He was carrying a Pan Am flag on a recent trip to Belize and was often stopped, he said.

“Everyone knew about,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see over the next two years how Toronto embraces this. It’s going to be huge and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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