Grand Falls-Windsor -
The smiles on their faces and the outpouring of energy from the athletes, coaches and other team members as they marched into Windsor Stadium Saturday for the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games told organizers everything they wanted to know: that their tireless efforts had helped make the week-long Games in Grand Falls-Windsor a resounding success.
"From what I've seen and what I've heard from others, it gets close to a perfect 10," said protocol committee chair Si Thompson.
"We will go down as one of the model areas to host the Winter Games. Even though we never had as much time to prepare for it, we'll be the trendsetters to follow in the future."
Grand Falls-Windsor mayor Al Hawkins credited people like Thompson, accommodations chair Roy Oldford, security chair Artie Day and venues chairperson Bill Hanlon - all retired individuals who dedicated countless hours to the Games' operation - with helping keep everything together over the week, just as they have been part of the glue helping hold the town together over the past year, ever since the closure of the Abitibi Bowater paper mill.
"These guys were up at six in the morning and there until 12 at night. Not only this week, but leading up to it," said Hawkins. "Without these guys and others like them, the community would not survive."
For Games manager Brian Casey, seeing hundreds of volunteers working toward a common goal filled him with a sense of pride.
"We had individuals in certain committees who were going outside their own to help others," he said. "That's the kind of people we have here and that says a lot about how you can get through things like this. It comes down to attitude, and theirs was unbelievably positive."
Casey is confident the Games will leave a "great legacy" in town, but insists it goes beyond medal results, stats and a significant economic impact.
"The Games revived a lot of people's spirits and emotions, and when you know you have the support of the community and work together as strongly as they did, it makes you realize we can do anything."
Nearly 1,400 athletes competed in the Games and their spirit and that of the 559 volunteers made for an uplifting experience.
"When you lose an industry you've had for over 100 years, economically it has an impact and socially it has a really big impact," explained Hawkins.
"Now, for at least a period of time, we were able to get our minds centered around something very positive.
"It was a real morale booster for us."