What a whirlwind of activity the World Police & Fire Games brought to Fairfax County and to our store! It’s incredible to think that 12,000 athletes, from 70 countries came to compete in our own backyard. These police officers, firefighters and first responders are our heroes from around the globe and it was an honor for us to support them and be a part of this incredible event.
Our store got involved two years ago when Kevin Reynolds and Bill Knight came to our store and asked our President, Maris Angolia, to be on the board. After one board meeting Maris said, “I was hooked.” Maris chaired the Merchant Incentive Program and Karin’s Florist became a Proud Host and was able to provide floral arrangements for many of the events. These events included the Opening Ceremonies at RFK Stadium, The National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service, The National Law Enforcement Candlelight Vigil and the Closing Ceremonies at Wolf Trap.
Captain Jerome Williams from the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department & Lieutenant Bruce Blechl, from the Fairfax County Police Department spearheaded the effort to help bring the Games to Fairfax County.
The events were jam-packed with excitement. These athletes came to represent their countries and win. They included classic, Olympic-style events like Track & Field and other events unique to the World Police & Fire Games. The Stair Race and the Police Service Dogs events were definitely some crowd favorites. Yet in the midst of competition, there was a sense of comradery among the athletes. People from all over the world were interacting with each other and the atmosphere was incredible. They were all united. One officer put it best by saying they were all part of the public safety family. They are our everyday heroes and we were glad that we were able to bring a little fun to their lives as a way to say thank you for what they do for us.
We did lose a hero during the games. Police Investigator Carlos Silva died after a crash during a cycling tournament. Two other athletes were injured during the crash. A vigil was held in his honor at Reston Town Center. His fellow athletes came to show their support for him and his family. The support was tremendous, they had lost a brother. Athletes brought flags from their departments as a sign of respect for Officer Carlos Silva. Our hearts go out to this fallen hero and to his family.
The Closing Ceremonies were held at Wolf Trap. It was the perfect way to end such an extraordinary event. The athletes were there wearing their country’s shirts with pride. It was bittersweet, the Games were ending but they were going home.
After the speeches were done, the 80’s cover band The Leg Warmers preformed. And the biggest rock star of the night was Fire Chief Richie Bowers! He matched the energy of the band and hyped up the crowd. He was throwing guitar picks into the crowd, giving away t-shirts and air guitaring next to the band! The crowd loved it! It was an absolute thrill to watch.
We also got to witness the torch for the 2017 Montreal Games being lit on stage with the Fairfax County Flame. It was a magical moment; it was great to know that such a positive event would be happening soon. The torch left Wolf Trap and will be taken to Montreal on bike. That blew the crowd away!
We wish our friends in Montreal good luck as they begin planning for the 2017 World Police & Fire Games and hope they are as thrilled and honored to be a part of it as we were. Thank you to all the heroes from around the world and to the volunteers and local businesses that helped make this event the success that it was.