Huntington Beach is one of the 100 Host Towns in Southern California, serving as a temporary home for athletes from Australia and the Netherlands as they compete the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.
The athletes were welcomed into Huntington Beach on July 21, paraded through Main Street, and enjoyed the festivities of Surf City Nights, a street fair with live music and farmers market-style food.
“Our goal is to make them feel comfortable and to share with them what Surf City is all about. We just want them to have a great time … we want them to adapt to the climate and the culture,” said Julie Toledo, the Public Information Officer for the City of Huntington Beach.
The athletes enjoyed many fun activities such as visiting the city’s wetlands reservations, watching concerts in Central Park, enjoying s’mores on the beach, and much more. The athletes soaked up as much fun as they could in the three days they spent in Huntington Beach before they were sent off to celebrate the World Games Opening Ceremony on July 25 and then later compete the next day.
Toledo pointed out that one of Huntington Beach’s sister cities is Manly, Australia. While there aren’t any athletes from Manly, it does give Huntington Beach a unique connection to the country it’s hosting. Toledo was glad to have this connection and also to be able to speak the same language and communicate with the athletes.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity … this is really special for us, we want to make it special for them,” Toledo said with a smile, “I’m just excited to welcome them with open arms.”