Carnival of Champions returning in 2014

DOWNEY - After a three-year hiatus, the Downey Unified School District is bringing back the Carnival of Champions athletic competition for local fourth and fifth graders, this time with a collaboration deal with the Downey YMCA.

A tentative date of April 26, 2014 has been set for the event's return.

The athletic competition was a community staple for nearly 50 years before it was canceled in 2010 as part of budget cuts.

Hosting the Carnival of Champions costs the school district about $7,000, said Matt Knox, who handles public relations for DUSD.

Under its new format, the Downey YMCA will provide a coach each week to participating schools for after-school training.

"Our coaches are looking forward to helping our young athletes enhance their skills and, more importantly, build their confidence during the weeks leading up to the event," said Anne Ullstrom, executive director of the Downey YMCA.

Fourth and fifth grade students currently enrolled in nine of DUSD's elementary schools are eligible to participate in Carnival of Champions.

As in previous years, the competition features seven track and field events, including the 50- and 100-yard dash, standing long jump, four-member-team 440-yard relay, mixed coed relay, baskets-in-a-minute, and softball throw for distance.

Each event is scored on a 10-8-6-4-2 basis to recognize first through fifth place finishers.

"While the last three year's events were temporarily interrupted due to budget constraints, we're excited to re-launch the Carnival of Champions and to partner with our Downey YMCA," DUSD superintendent Dr. John Garcia said in a statement.