Encinitas to help host Special Olympics athletes

The Special Olympics World Games next summer will be the largest event in Los Angeles since 1984. And Encinitas will help support it.

The City Council voted unanimously Sept. 17 to serve as a Host Town, joining Del Mar, Solana Beach and other cities from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Councilman Mark Muir said. “We should be proud to have the opportunity to be a small part of the success of this event.”

With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches taking part in the games, 100 Host Towns will showcase unique parts of their cities three days before opening ceremonies July 25.

In Encinitas, 100 delegates will likely check out a city beach and sample local cuisine.

Additionally, some athletes might practice at city facilities such as the Encinitas Community and Senior Center; they’ll stay at Cal State San Marcos free of charge.

“Host towns provide a place for delegates to practice and rest before the games,” said Marilee Gorham, city recreation superintendent.

A yet-to-be assembled host town committee will coordinate food, security and transportation for the delegates.

Supervisor Dave Roberts’ office and the Live Well San Diego Lions Club will handle most, if not all, of the hard costs and arrangements.

City staff will lend a hand with marketing and hosting events, an indirect cost. Upon Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz’s suggestion, staff time will be tracked for future reference.

As part of council’s motion, if additional city resources are requested, that would go to the council for approval.

The vote also gave approval for the Special Olympics to use the city’s logo, which will be displayed on the Special Olympics World Games website.

Dawn O’Leary, organizing committee director for the Host Town program, called it a “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity” for Encinitas. She said the goal of the program is to expand the reach of the Special Olympics beyond Los Angeles.

Athletes representing 77 countries will participate in opening ceremonies July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Athletes Villages at the University of Southern California and University of California Los Angeles.