Downtown Colorado Springs will turn into an Olympic winter wonderland come February.
A winter gala will be held Feb. 7 to celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
"The idea is to hold an annual event that simply recognizes the importance and prestige of the Olympic presence in Colorado Springs," said Colorado Springs Sports Corp. spokesman Mike Moran. "No other city in the country can boast what Colorado Springs has in connection with Olympic and amateur sports."
February's 2014 Winter Olympics kickoff party will be the city's third annual Olympics' festival designed to highlight the role the Olympics play in the city. The celebration is being organized by the city of Colorado Springs, The Downtown Development Authority, the United States Olympic Committee and the Colorado Springs Sports Corp.
The opening of the ceremony will be broadcast on a 17-foot-wide screen on Tejon Street and Platte Avenue. And from 5 to 10 p.m., Colorado Springs residents will be able to partake in a slew of events, including a snowmobile jumping show, the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic cauldron, a 1-mile glow run downtown on Bijou Street and perhaps view celebrity winter athletes.
Acacia Park will feature dog sled demonstrations, and City Rock Gym will hold ice climbing demonstrations. Other events are still in the works, said Moran.
"It's part of the Sports Corporation's mission in providing enjoyable events that add quality of life in the city," he said. "It recognizes the role that the USOC has played in this city since we moved in 1978 from New York."
The city's past two Olympic celebrations have brought thousands of spectators downtown to revel in a variety of activities.
In July 2012, close to 20,000 people converged downtown to celebrate the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in London, which featured fireworks and two U.S. Olympians.
This past July, there were no games, but 12,000 people came out to celebrate the city's reputation as "America's Olympic City." The event was held in conjunction with the opening of the 2013 Rocky Mountain State Games in Colorado Springs.
Moran said although many cities around the country celebrate the return of athletes from their towns, Colorado Springs is one of the few cities to hold a pre-Olympics celebration, or even an annual celebration to celebrate the spirit of the Olympics.
"It's simply because we have the Olympic family here," said Moran, who also is a former spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee.
In addition to being the headquarters for the USOC, Colorado Springs is home to more than two dozen national governing bodies of Olympic, Pan American Games and Paralympic sports, including USA Hockey, U.S. Figure Skating and the U.S. Bobsled Federation.
It's also home to the Olympic Training Center, where many athletes going to Sochi started chasing their dreams, Moran said.
"They get their support from organizations in Colorado Springs."