Three years to the day from Tuesday, Toronto will host the 2015 Pan Am Games and the city is celebrating with a slew of events at Nathan Phillips Square.
At noon, the flags for both the Pan American Sports Organization and America’s Paralympics Committee were raised at city hall, as Mayor Rob Ford declared July 10 the official Pan Am/Parapan Am Day in the city.
Ford first thanked federal, provincial and municipal leaders for their work on the games, before acknowledging the future athletes in the crowd.
“I’d like to especially welcome the 1600 summer camp children who have come to join us in celebration. Maybe one day you’ll be representing Canada,” Ford said.
“The Games will showcase our region on the international stage and attract thousands and thousands of visitors to this great city.”
The ceremony featured live music, including performances from the Pan Fantasy Steel Band and Manitoulin Island Aboriginal drummers, and appearances from decorated athletes Curt Harnett, Anson Henry and Summer Mortimer.
Harnett is a three-time Olympic medallist who garnered two bronze and one silver medal in track cycling. Henry, a sprinter, took home the bronze and the silver in the 2003 and 2007 Pan Am Games and Mortimer is a para-swimmer who holds several world records.
Later in the afternoon, Kardinal Offishall, dance troupe Just BGRPAHIC and the Regent Park Music Choir performed.
Also at city hall is a photo exhibit from artist Devon Ostrom. Fresh Eyes is an up-close look at the eyes of new Canadians, primarily those from Pan American nations.
On Tuesday evening, 41 free pianos – one for each country represented in the Games – will be unveiled across the city. The exhibit, called Play Me I’m Yours, will kick off with a free concert at David Pecaut Square.
The 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games will bring more than 10,000 athletes and officials from 41 countries to Ontario and will involve more than 20,000 volunteers.