WINTER GAMES EXCITEMENT - The official 2019 Canada Winter Games’ Mascot was revealed as Waskasoo during a celebration yesterday. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express WINTER GAMES EXCITEMENT - The official 2019 Canada Winter Games’ Mascot was revealed as Waskasoo during a celebration tonight. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

Canada Winter Games hits major milestone

Celebration held in Red Deer to mark 500 days out of event and announce new mascot

The 2019 Canada Winter Games is officially 500 days away.

At a celebration held tonight, officials also unveiled the mascot for the event – Waskasoo the deer.

Mackenzie​ ​Van​ ​Damme​​, 12, ​of​ ​Lacombe​ ​designed​ ​Waskasoo​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​2019 Canada​ ​Winter​ ​Games​’ ​Mascot​ ​Challenge.​ ​​Van​ ​Damme​​’s​ ​design​ ​was​ ​selected​ ​from​ ​over​ ​300 challenge​ ​entries​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​mascot​ ​of​ ​the​ ​2019​ ​Games.

“We​ ​are​ ​proud​ ​to​ ​congratulate​ ​Mackenzie​ ​for​ ​creating​ ​the​ ​perfect​ ​ambassador​ ​for​ ​the​ ​2019 Games​ ​-​ ​Waskasoo,”​ ​said​ ​Lyn​ ​Radford,​ ​board​ ​chair​ ​of​ ​the​ ​2019​ ​Canada​ ​Winter​ ​Games.​ ​

“Over​ ​the next​ ​17​ ​months,​ ​Waskasoo​ ​will​ ​help​ ​to​ ​share​ ​the​ ​magic​ ​of​ ​the​ ​2019​ ​Games​ ​with​ ​adults​ ​and​ ​youth alike​ ​in​ ​Central​ ​Alberta​ ​through​ ​his​ ​enthusiasm,​ ​encouragement​ ​and​ ​kindness.”

As​ ​the​ ​winner​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Mascot​ ​Challenge,​ ​​Van​ ​Damme​​​ ​wins​ ​a​ ​Canada​ ​Games​ ​prize​ ​pack​ ​and​ ​a​ ​pizza lunch​ ​for​ ​her​ ​class.​ ​​She will​ ​also​ ​be​ ​a​ ​torchbearer​ ​during​ ​the​ ​2019​ ​Games​ ​Torch​ ​Relay.

“The​ ​unveiling​ ​of​ ​the​ ​mascot​ ​Waskasoo​ ​designed​ ​by​ ​Mackenzie​ ​reminds​ ​us​ ​of​ ​all​ ​the​ ​ways​ ​the Canada​ ​Winter​ ​Games​ ​positively​ ​impacts​ ​our​ ​City​ ​and​ ​region,”​ ​said​ ​Red​ ​Deer​ ​Mayor​ ​Tara​ ​Veer.

“In​ ​less​ ​than​ ​500​ ​days​ ​Red​ ​Deer​ ​will​ ​be​ ​profiled​ ​on​ ​the​ ​national​ ​stage​ ​when​ ​we​ ​welcome​ ​more than​ ​20,000​ ​Canadians​ ​to​ ​our​ ​City​ ​during​ ​the​ ​2019​ ​Canada​ ​Winter​ ​Games,​ ​with​ ​athletes competing​ ​in​ ​our​ ​national​ ​level​ ​facilities,​ ​visitors​ ​taking​ ​part​ ​in​ ​the​ ​festivities ​and​ ​Red​ ​Deerians benefiting​ ​from​ ​the​ ​economic​ ​spin-off​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Games.​ ​Thank​ ​you​ ​to​ ​Mackenzie​ ​on​ ​behalf​ ​of​ ​the City​ ​for​ ​her​ ​creative​ ​submission.”

Radford added the excitement in the community continues to build.

“You can feel the excitement now in the City. We notice it with the corporate sector, they are realizing they need to start to get on with this now. We’re noticing it with the school kids and the really neat part of it is as soon as you say 2019 in the community, it’s a recognition piece with our citizens,” she said.

She added the planning is also ramping up.

“Now we’re really getting into the details. Now there will be more information coming out about the festivals that will be happening out at the Celebration Plaza, more information about the opening and closing ceremonies,” said Radford.

She added volunteers are already in place but next spring will be the big call out to volunteers. “We’ll be looking at 4,000 to 5,000 volunteers.”

For​ ​more​ ​details​ ​on​ ​the​ ​2019​ ​Canada​ ​Winter​ ​Games​ ​and​ ​Waskasoo,​ ​please​ ​visit canadagames.ca/2019​.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

Like us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RedDeerExpress/ and follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/RedDeerExpress.