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Can-Am Police-Fire Games expected to draw crowd of first responders to York County

By Gordon Rago, York Daily Record, Pa.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 13--With hundreds of police officers, firefighters and first responders expected in York County this week for the Can-Am Police-Fire Games, John Stine wanted to open the doors of his volunteer-run museum for a few extra hours.

York'sPolice Heritage Museum is typically only open on Saturdays, offering its visitors a glimpse into what law enforcement looked like 200 years ago. But Stine, the museum's curator, said it was important he and his staff give a chance for today's law enforcement to have some more time to learn that history -- as well as provide a break from the sun after competing in the games' events.

"We wanted to be open for visitors," Stine said. "They're going to be out in the heat all day. I'm sure they're going to want to get out for a little while."

The museum is set to be open Wednesday night from 6 to 9 p.m., and Stine said his staff will be there to answer questions and talk with visitors. But planning ahead to accommodate for large crowds is not as easy as it sounds, he said.

"You just don't have a crystal ball," Stine said. "It's kind of difficult to plan for these events when you don't know how much time they'll have."

Can-Am organizers in York County, along with other local businesses, echo Stine's sentiment, saying they expect the large crowds to be spread out throughout the county.

This is the first time the event has been hosted here.

Athletes will be dispersed because the events like mountain biking, bowling and skeet shooting will be held at sites in Hanover and as far north as Warrington Township and Dauphin County, said Anne Druck, president of the York County Convention and Vistors Bureau.

The Can-Am Games are expected to draw more than 600 athletes from across the United States and beyond and are expected to benefit the local economy with an estimated total of $1.9 million, Druck added.

"We have quite a strong record of hosting sports events in York County," she said. "But these games are different because they're locally organized when it comes to producing the event."

And as the 2014 volunteer Board of Directors for the games, led by York City Police Chief Wes Kahley, worked on organizing brackets, hiring officials and running registration, Druck said the benefit to the county will be spread out.

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"There will be a spillover with athletes staying in many different lodging locations," she said.

At the Holiday Inn on Loucks Road in West Manchester Township, the staff is preparing to meet the needs of its visitors expected this week, said Christina McCullough, director of sales and marketing. When big crowds are expected, McCullough said the hotel makes sure there is ample staff to ensure a smooth welcome at the front desk, as well as in the hotel's restaurant.

For Alan Ching, manager at White Rose Bar and Grill in York, a full staff is ready for an influx of diners.

"I expect us to be busier than normal," Ching said. "But besides that it will be business as usual."

White Rose will host a beanbag toss competition outside in its parking lot July 19, one of many social events scheduled during the week.

The games will run from July 13 to 20 and are expected to draw competitors from fire, police and EMS companies worldwide.

They will take place at more than 30 locations throughout the county, including the York Expo Center, Graham Aquatic Center, Central York High School and the York Barbell Co., according to county's visitors bureau.

Tim Bonitz, marketing director at York Barbell, said his staff is preparing to be "all hands on deck."

The company's facility will host the bench press, deadlift, power lifting and Olympic lifting.

"I feel like we've been preparing for this for three to four years," Bonitz said, laughing. "We love hosting events, and this facility was designed to host events."

To prepare, the company has added parking spots and rearranged its training facility over the last couple months, Bonitz said.

It marks the first time Olympic lifting has been part of the Can-Am Games in its 37-year history. And York Barbell will have a short window of time between events this week to switch over its auditorium for competitors.

"We're going to be hustling for two days next week to make sure the place is perfect, because the competitors deserve that," Bonitz said.

The competitions are free and open to the public, according to yorkcanamgames.com.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled for July 13 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the York Expo Center. Tickets are $5 (children 12-under get in free). Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish® of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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There will be a handful of vendors set up at Heritage Hills Resort, the host hotel of this year's Can-Am Games, from July 13 to 20 for athletes and people watching the events. Among them:

Tac Wear: Distributor of "duty tested" performance clothing for emergency responders, athletes, and soldiers

VFIS: One of the largest providers of insurance, education and consulting services for fire departments, rescue crews and 911 control centers

Harris Communications: Sells amplified phones, telephone amplifiers, vibrating dead alarm clocks and other equipment

WellSpan: Hospitals and medical providers covering the York region

Rabbittransit: Regional public transportation provider

Future Can-Am hosts Thunder Bay, Ontario (2016) and Hampton Roads, Virginia (2018), will also have displays.

--Drill gives York Hospital residents a hands-on emergency course

--Firefighters prepare for Can-Am Police-Fire Games in York County

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(c)2014 York Daily Record (York, Pa.)

Visit York Daily Record (York, Pa.) at www.ydr.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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