Officials reflect on successful Empire State Winter Games

With the revamped 2011 Empire State Winter Games in the rear view, local leaders are looking ahead to next year with high hopes.

A group of officials hosted a luncheon at Nicola's Restaurant in Lake Placid late last week, where they thanked the various municipalities and private businesses that made this year's games a success.

The games were briefly canceled last November after the state Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation announced it would not host this year's games due to New York's ongoing fiscal crisis.

Local governments and tourism groups quickly joined forces to save the games, gathering donations from the public and private sectors in order to finance the popular winter event.

Jim McKenna is president and CEO of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau.

McKenna said last Friday that the games had a tremendous economic impact on the Olympic region. He also thanked local and regional media outlets for getting the word out.

"Once we get outside of our local borders here, we're all the same," McKenna said. "Thanks for all of your efforts from the media, because that helped us be successful with the games. And it put us in a pretty good position to try and expand them and grow them in the future, which is our goal."

Jeff Byrne is vice president of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority.

Byrne says a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work was necessary to make the games happen.

"We had great cooperation between all of the people who were involved," he said. "And it became a very successful regional event."

According to Byrne, officials are excited at the prospect of making the games bigger and better in the future.

Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said taking over the games from the state was a "no-brainer."

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