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Santa Clarita to host 2015 Special Olympians

Posted: June 12, 2014 5:15 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2014 5:15 p.m.
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Santa Clarita will put out the welcome mat next year for athletes participating in the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015, billed by organizers as “the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world,” officials announced Thursdsay. 

Mayor Laurene Weste, Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean and City Council members Dante Acosta and Bob Kellar joined Special Olympics World Games COO Jeff Carr and Special Olympics ambassador Marisa Watkins at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center in announcing the city’s participation in the event’s Home Town program.

“We’re incredibly excited to be able to share our community with these terrific athletes and the World Special Olympics,” Weste said. “This is an incredible opportunity to showcase our community.”

Santa Clarita will be one of about 100 cities and towns across Southern California — from San Diego to Santa Maria — selected to host the 7,000 athletes from 177 countries who will compete in the nine-day World Special Olympics scheduled July 25 to Aug. 2 at the Los Angeles Colliseum, officials said. So far, Long Beach, Burbank, Palmdale, West Covina, Studio City, Calabasas and Thousand Oaks also have been selected to participate in the Home Towns program, organizers said.

During the actual games, athletes will stay at UCLA and USC, organizers said.

For three days before the games, however, from July 21-24, Special Olympics althletes will stay in a hosting city, where they will be provided with free lodging, food and some special memories, spokesman Stephen Vanderpool said.

In the hosting community of Studio City, for example, the visiting athletes will be treated to a trip to the New York City set at Universal Studios where TV’s “Seinfeld” was filmed, Vanderpool said.

Having the athletes arrive from all over the world to Southern California three days before the games will give them a chance to get acclimated to the time zone change and climate while also giving them a few days to train and to take in some of the area’s sights, organizers said.

Weste said city officials will try to come up with something memorable for the visiting Special Olympians, but there were no firm plans Thursday.

“We’re going to figure out something special for them,” said Weste.

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