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Empire State Games ready to start

LAKE PLACID - With a can-do attitude and a lot of hard work, the Olympic village is now ready to host the 31st Annual Empire State Winter Games.

After receiving word that the Empire State Winter Games would receive no state funding, a group of local businesses, municipalities and individuals came together to make sure that the Games did not end at 30.

"The window that we had to get this done was very short," said Sandy Caligiore, former ORDA communications director who is helping to promote the state sponsored-less games. "We were able to save the event for the athletes, some that have been coming to compete for each of the 30 years that they have taken place."

Caligiore said that it was great to see such strong community support to keep the games alive.

"We were able to get together a group of 8-10 different entities that all agreed these games needed to be saved," he said.

Organizations in the community-driven event include the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau, the town of North Elba, the village of Lake Placid, the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, the village of Saranac Lake, the town of Wilmington and Essex County.

"There are many places that are either donating money or in-kind services to the event," Caligiore said.

The 31st Annual Empire State Winter Games will take place from Friday, Feb. 25 to Sunday, Feb. 27.

The fact that the games are even happening is a testament to the local community wanting to keep a long-standing tradition for those looking for a weekend away, as the state had stopped funding the games in Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

The opening ceremony, where thousands of athletes will make their way into the Herb Brooks Arena, site of one of the greatest sports moments in United States history (the "Miracle on Ice" in 1980), will take place on Feb. 25 with the parade of athletes at 5:45 p.m., followed by the opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. with music by Barefoot Truth.

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