Celebration Park Venue Spotlight
BY MIKE GASTINEAU - USA GAMES CORRESPONDENT
The softball competition for the 2018 USA Special Olympics Games will be held at the appropriately named Celebration Park in Federal Way. Opened in the late ‘90s, the park was named in the hopes that citizens would see it as a place to celebrate and come together.
“It’s the jewel in our crown of athletic facilities in Federal Way,” said John Hutton, the Parks Director for the City of Federal Way. “The 2018 USA Special Olympics Games are an example of what our parks department is all about. We care about inclusion and we’re a leader in the Northwest in terms of our inclusive programs.”
Hutton isn’t exaggerating. Federal Way Parks is home to Friendship Theater which is a nationally recognized theater program for adults with disabilities. 2017 was the 17th consecutive year the theater has put on a full Broadway musical that is acted and performed 100% by citizens with disabilities.
The parks department also offers an inclusion program that includes six overnight camping trips for people with disabilities. And, they have had local, regional, and statewide success in 10 different Special Olympics sports.
“Not that it matters,” Hutton said with pride, “but we tend to win a lot, too. All of our programs are based on the idea that we don’t see disabilities as a barrier, we see them as opportunities.”
So, hosting the softball athletes is a natural extension of what the Federal Way Parks Department does on a daily basis. The 88-acre complex at Celebration Park not only features fields to host softball but Hutton said there are plenty of things to do for fans and players between games.
“There are nature trails so you can get out and enjoy a walk. We’ve got stunning views of Mt. Rainier. There’s a wetland area that surrounds the park so there’s wildlife to be seen. The BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) trailhead is at the park and it allows you to see the entire city without walking on major streets.”
Celebration Park has hosted many state, regional, national, and international sports events. Hutton said every tournament is fun, but looks forward to the 2018 USA Games as a chance for the park to really shine.
“This event is a real feather in our cap. It will allow us to show what Federal Way is all about. People who walk away from this are going to walk away saying ‘wow,they knocked our socks off.’ We want to be welcoming and really throw out the red carpet for everyone.”