Law enforcement officers and fire personnel throughout the state are heading for Toledo for the 24th annual Ohio Police and Fire Games, which start today.
“It's a great experience for everybody,” said George Gerken, a lawyer and retired Toledo police sergeant who has participated every year and is organizing the cycling events this year.
About 1,600 participants and family members are expected for the week-long event.
The games include about 30 sports. Events that are new or have been brought back this year include arm wrestling, judo, three-on-three basketball, bowling, volleyball, beach volleyball, and walleye fishing.
There are individual and team events. Spouses may participate in some events.
Venues for the games include the University of Toledo, Ottawa Lanes, the Clarion Hotel Westgate, Toledo Express Airport, various parks and golf courses, and the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee.
Mr. Gerken said the games are important for two reasons: fitness and camaraderie. “It's important for them to maintain a level of fitness in their jobs, to work toward something. And they meet a lot of people from different agencies throughout the state,” he said.
Some participants prepare all year, while others organize teams and practice only a few times in an attempt to win a medal.
Jim Donnelly, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the SeaGate Centre, anticipates about $755,000 will be spent at hotels, restaurants, and attractions in the area.
“This is a pretty good piece of business. Any outside money coming in is important to us,” Mr. Donnelly said.