By Somi Jun
Print Managing Editor
Photos by Hana Tyszka, Thomas Forman, Matt Scholtz
Over 110 members of the South Pasadena community gathered on Fair Oaks Avenue to welcome Special Olympics teams to the city on Wednesday, July 22. Athletes from Paraguay arrived in buses at around 11:20 a.m. to the fanfare of homemade banners, colorful bandannas, and shouts of welcome in different languages. The team from Morocco joined Paraguayan athletes for lunch and training at the South Pasadena High School Stadium later that afternoon.
The Paraguayan team did light training on the basketball and tennis courts, followed by a soccer scrimmage on the field. SPHS alumni joined the athletes for the scrimmage, as community members watched and cheered from the stands. The Moroccan athletes arrived late due to registration errors, and joined the crowd for lunch.
“It was very pleasant. The football game was exciting and surprisingly smooth,” volunteer and SPHS alumnus Alec English said. “[The teams] were very jetlagged, so they didn’t have much to say. But they clearly enjoyed [South Pasadena’s] pleasant ambiance and felt very welcomed, thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers.”
The athletes, volunteers, and community members gathered for an ice cream social next to Meridian Iron Works around 1:45 p.m, followed by a walking tour of South Pasadena. The afternoon concluded as delegates returned to their accommodations to rest. The two Special Olympics teams will be tentatively staying in South Pasadena until Friday, as the World Games begin on July 25.
“This is an Olympics game that is truly for the sports. It’s not for the money or to be famous or anything like that. It’s not competitive to the point of people trying to put each other down,” volunteer coordinator Glenda Chen said. “It’s purely for the athletes to have a good time and truly do their best.”