Downey's Special Olympics host town festivities officially get underway today with a welcome concert in the Downey Civic Center starting at 7 p.m.
Special Olympians competing in the World Games arrived in Downey last night, and begin training today at various locations throughout the city, including Downey High School and the Rio Hondo Golf Club.
“Our city is thrilled to be part of the Special Olympics World Games Host Town Program and we look forward to welcoming these amazing athletes to our community,” said Mayor Luis Marquez. “Hosting the Ireland delegation is even more special to us due to our City’s history ties with Ireland, and our Sister City relationship with Roscommon County, Ireland.”
Tonight's concert will be held in the Civic Center and replaces the summer concert at Furman Park. The program features live performances by Irish dance troupe Kerry Dance Troupe, cover band Knyght Rider, and Latin band La Charanga.
There will also be face painting, a photo booth, food trucks, arts and crafts, and more.
Ireland's arrival in Downey is big news in their home country.
"Each of these athletes has shown great motivation, discipline and tremendous skill in getting this far and it is worthy of real celebration," Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland, told the Ireland Independent. "They are all winners and it is a truly remarkable achievement for all our athletes, their coaches, their families and Special Olympics volunteers."
The Special Olympics World Games begin Saturday, and Ireland will be escorted during opening ceremonies by actor Colin Farrel, model Claudine Keane, and Olympic silver medalist John Treacy.