PALESTINE—Local government and community leaders are putting the final touches on a proposal to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee for hosting the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston made the announcement during a recent press conference, explaining it was the successful partnership among several local entities in creating a late season tourist attraction, featuring a winter festival and second-hand Christmas decorations, that prompted the unprecedented move, “It’s the next logical step,” he said, “it’s time to throw our skates into the international rink and see what happens.”
Palestine city manager Wendy Ellis was next to address the crowd of five or six enthusiastic supporters, “We must continue to think outside the box,” she pleaded. “We’re a small town, but that doesn’t mean we have to be small-minded, come on people, we can gain international notoriety if we can just eliminate the negativity, have a positive attitude and believe in greater things.”
District 6 city councilman Steve Presley then took the podium bringing with him an informative but very detailed presentation that held the audience captive for one hour thirty-seven minutes as he spoke about the importance of the Texas State Railroad to the local economy and the role it would play in hosting the Winter Games.
Host Site Committee Chairman, Jackson Hanks, a former mayor of Palestine, took his turn at the microphone, stoically laying out the logistics of the event, “Opening ceremonies will take place at Wildcat Stadium which currently seats seventy-five hundred but we’ll expand that capacity to ten thousand by bringing in the wooden bleachers from the athletic complex, the ski jump competition will be held on Avenue A in front of Fire Station #1, Alpine skiing will be on Alpine Street, skeleton has been assigned to the hills of City Cemetery, the gymnasiums at area schools will be used for curling, hockey and speed skating competitions, and all figure skating events are assigned to the artificial ice rink purchased by the city”. Hanks said it was the artificial rink that served as the inspiration for building a bigger, better “artificial Palestine”, one that “we can all be proud of and one we hope will catch the eyes of Olympic Officials in the near term, and the eyes and dollars of both domestic and international tourists in the decades that follow”.
Officials also announced a citywide “clean up day” would be scheduled the Saturday before opening ceremonies and further advised local residents to just “chill out for now”, reiterating the need for positive thinking, and cautioned, “this is a critical time in the application process and all it takes is for one negative comment to melt our chances at success.” Officials thanked the handful of those in attendance, but expressed disappointment at the low turnout, stating they had expected “thousands” including national media outlets, but blamed the lack of attendance on the weather, noting “it’s cloudy, windy and forty-eight degrees out there”.