Games open with conga

It was a rousing start to four days of sporting events as the BC 55+ Games officially opened in Vernon Wednesday night. 

Sporting events had gone on all day by the time the ceremony began at Kal Tire Place.

An RCMP guard and dignitaries were piped into the venue before most of the 3,600 athletes, of ages ranging from 55 to 97, marched onto the floor with banners aloft – waving and smiling.

Welcomed by the Okanagan Indian Band and the mayors of Vernon and Coldstream, the athletes were treated to local talent, including OKIB drummers, singers and dancers in colourful costumes and rhythmic gymnast Megan Hamilton.

When singer Andrew Allen took to the stage, a number of the older athletes showed they still had a lot of energy even at the end of a long day, forming a conga line and dancing past dignitaries and down the rows.

The president of the Vernon games, Wee Yee, drew laughter from the crowd as he warned them, "We're going to get you full of adrenaline. We're going to get you hyper, like a sugar high, and then send you back to your kids."

To top off the night, Vernon athlete, Mira Grypink, 85, carried the torch aloft through the venue.

Her 27th year of competition, Grypink was accompanied by her two daughters, Jacquie and Monique. All three will be competing in a swimming relay during these games.

The torch was then passed to Maxine Smallwood of Kitimat who lit the cauldron for the official start of the event. She was helped by Doug Ross, the City of Vernon's director of recreation services.

Smallwood has attended all 30 provincial seniors' games, including the first one ever held in Vernon.  

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