In February, there was a lot of yelling and flag waving around TV sets and computer screens in Park City. But the recipients of our fevered excitement during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia -- 63 athletes with ties to Summit County -- couldn't hear the cheers or see the endearments scrawled across our hand-lettered banners.
This Saturday, though, we will finally have the opportunity to celebrate together -- athletes, families, coaches and ardent fans.
The festivities kick off at 1 p.m. with a parade from the top to bottom of Main Street. While the final lineup is still in play due to the athletes' busy competition schedules and publicity obligations, rumor has it that at least four medalists (three of the gold variety and a double-bronze winner, as well) will be attending. And so will many other Olympians, past and present, who grew up training on local slopes, at hometown terrain parks and on the Utah Olympic Park's bobsled track and Nordic jumps just down the road.
According to Park City's Youth Sports Alliance (YSA), a local non-profit organization devoted to expanding access to youth-oriented athletic programs, 18 of their participants and alumni and three coaches were represented at Sochi this year.
We must be doing something right. Even the big network moderators took notice as one Park City athlete after another landed on Olympic podiums. Park City's medal count, they joked, was higher than that of most countries competing at the Games.
Our Olympic athletes made us extraordinarily proud this year. Their courage and skill brought honor to their country, their hometowns, their schools, their coaches and their families.
But we are pretty sure they would agree that their successes took root in a generous, devoted community that has consistently come through with support of all kinds. From special education programs designed to fit a winter athlete's grueling travel schedule, to fundraisers and specialized training programs designed to nurture their unique talents.
Saturday will be devoted to heaping praise on the winter warriors, including Olympic medalists Ted Ligety, Sage Kotsenburg, Joss Christensen, Steve Holcomb and Paralympic winners Danelle and Rob Umstead. At the same time, we should also celebrate the hometown squad of teachers, coaches, physical therapists, fundraisers and others who ensured that Team Park City would shine at the Olympics.
For more information about the event go to ysapc.org