Olympic Park celebrated

Community Featured

STELLARTON — An Olympic-sized event was celebrated Sunday with two Olympic athletes in attendance.

A good crowd gathered as the park at Valley Woods was officially renamed Olympic Park in honour of the two Olympic athletes who come from the town. Les ‘Babe’ Mason, boxer, and Blayre Turnbull, hockey player, were the guests of honour at the ceremony which not only saw the park renamed but new interpretive panels on the history of the pond and park unveiled as well as a panel on the athletes themselves.

Mason and Turnbull both stood at the podium to thank the town, friends and family for the support in their journey as well as the newly named park in their honour. Mason even shared, as he pulled a yellowed piece of paper out of his jacket pocket, that he kept the telegram that he received from Stellarton residents during his time in Melbourne, Australia competing in the games there.

Stellarton Mayor Danny MacGillivray said he was thrilled to invite everyone to the park for the ceremony and took note of the journey the athletes had to make in order to get to the Olympics. He was proud to say that with all of the athletes’ achievements, they still think of their hometown.

“You give back to your community in so many ways,” he said, adding that just that morning he watched Turnbull coaching a girls hockey camp at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.

After 62 years, Mason was thrilled to be recognized for his accomplishments as a boxer and for being able to compete in the Olympics. Having to pay his own way to the Games at that time, it was something he was determined on taking part in, he said. The lifelong Stellarton resident added that he used to spend time in the area a lot before the park was created as he had family that lived nearby. He also brought along the telegram in hopes to show a few people who had signed it to wish him good luck.

“It’s something I never thought would happen,” said Turnbull about the re-naming of the park. She was impressed with how fast the whole thing seemed to come together after having only competed this past February in the Winter Games and taking home a silver medal. Having grown up just down the street from the park, Turnbull played in the park in the summers of her childhood and skated on the pond in the winters.

“I definitely have spent a lot of time here,” she said.

Blayre Turnbull, left, Stellarton Mayor Danny MacGillivray and Les ‘Babe’ Mason pull the cloth off the new Olympic Park interpretive panel. (Brimicombe photo)