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Downey prepares to host Special Olympics athletes

DOWNEY — Special Olympic athletes from Ireland, for whom Downey has agreed to be a host city, will have a chance to interact with residents at a community concert to be held from 7 to 10 p.m. July 22 in the Civic Center area.

Downey also is planning a rooftop concert on the parking structure at Second Street at New Avenue at 7 p.m. June 24 featuring Irish performers.

A farewell ceremony is set for 10 a.m. July 24 at the Civic Center, 11111 Brookshire Ave.

The free July 22 concert will feature a stage for live entertainment and a welcoming ceremony to the 131 athletes, their chaperones and hosts, Parks and Recreation Director Arlene Salazar said.

There will be catering trucks selling food, an arts and craft zone, a photo booth area and sponsorship information booths, Salazar said in a report to the City Council May 26.

Planned street closures will start at 4:30 a.m. July 22 and extend to 2 a.m. July 23 to give staff time to set up and take down tents and equipment, she said.

Closures during that time will be Brookshire at Civic Center Drive and at Second Street, Civic Center Drive at Third Street to the west and Dolan Avenue south of Third Street.

It is part of the activities planned for the visiting Irish Special Olympic athletes who will compete in  the World Games in Los Angeles July 25 to Aug. 2.

The opening ceremony for the Special Olympics will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 25 and televised to a worldwide audience by ESPN.

The athletes and their chaperones will stay various host cities July 21-24. After that they will move into Olympic dorms at USC and UCLA, Salazar said.

As a host city, Downey has agreed to find lodging, meals and transportation for the visitors. Arrangements have been made for them to stay at a local hotel, Salazar said.

A number of local civic groups and businesses have contributed to the cost of the events, which will include a trip local sites like the Columbia Memorial Space Center and the Coca Cola plant.

Downey also will have a goodbye ceremony for its visitors July 24 before they relocate to the Olympic facilities.

A number of other area cities also will host visitors from around the world for the event.

Alhambra, Monterey Park and Lincoln Heights will host Special Olympics competitors and their families from Germany.

Cerritos and Lakewood will host competitors from Turkey and Uruguay, while La Mirada will host people from Russia and Whittier will host people from Macau, a small area in China.

The 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles will feature more than 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches, a World Games spokesperson said.