York County tourism officials are expecting an economic impact of $4 million next year when more than 2,000 emergency responders from the United States and Canada come to York to compete in the Can-Am Police-Fire Games.
The eight-day, "Olympic-style" event is scheduled for July 13-20, 2014.
About 50 events will be held all over York County.
For example, the York Expo Center will host the opening ceremonies. The Graham Aquatic Center will host swimming, Memorial Park will host softball, and the York Barbell Company will host weightlifting, to name a few.
This is the first time the 37-year-old competition has been hosted in an East Coast city, one of the reasons the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau is expecting a huge turnout, said Allison Freeman, the organization's spokeswoman.
The competition: The Games, which began in 1977, offer police, firefighters and EMS personnel an opportunity to compete in traditional sports as well as profession-specific challenges like SWAT, police service dog and firefighter skills.
York City Police Chief Wes Kahley, who is helping organizers plan the event, said physical competition is appealing to folks who share his profession.
"I think people that do our jobs are type-A personality to start with," he said. "We're very competitive."
It's also a chance to build camaraderie among fellow police officers, firefighters and EMS, he said.
And, of course, "there's always bragging rights," Kahley said.
Contestants: The CVB, which learned in 2009 that York had been chosen to host the 2014 Games, is hoping to attract competitors from the major metropolitan hubs within driving distance of York.
"We're really heavily targeting within an eight-hour radius," Freeman said.
With the event a year away,
now's the time to start creating a buzz, she said.
"There's a million things going on behind the scenes," Freeman said. "We're just starting to get the word out."
Expected to be one of the biggest events York has ever hosted, the Games should pour money into local hotels and restaurants, Freeman said.
The event is held every two years. The 2012 games were held in St. Cloud, Minn.
Charity: The host city gets to choose which charity the event will benefit. York organizers have chosen the Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which will receive a portion of the proceeds.
Wish kids will present medals to winning athletes, participate in ceremonies and volunteer at events, Freeman said.
Organizers are still looking for sponsors and volunteers to help.
More information is available at http://www.yorkcanamgames.com.
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.