If you see a lot of cops hanging around town the next week or so, it’s not because the crime rate is going up. More than 5,000 police, sheriff and fire personnel from 417 different emergency public service agencies are expected for the 2009 Western States Police and Fire Games, which begin Saturday and end on June 20.
All told, more than 10,000 participants and their family members are expected in town for the games, including nearly 500 from the Los Angeles Police Department, more than 350 from the California Department of Corrections, and over 100 from the San Francisco Police Department.
The participants will compete in more than 50 individual sporting events, including boxing, baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and swimming, just to name a few. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Athletic Association (LASAA) is the proud sponsor of the games. All of the events and functions are free for the public to attend and are sure to offer some great competition and entertainment.
“Let’s be the best host city ever,” said Captain Anthony La Berge, commander of the Santa Clarita Valley station. “Come on out and get involved with supporting these top notch athletes in very competitive sporting events or attend one of the many social functions and welcome our public service neighbors.”
The games are filled with many side stories, such as the story of the Wongs Softball Team and Deputy Robert “Bobby” Corrales. The Wongs team, made up of deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was a dominating and feared softball team for more than 15 years, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals while participating in the Police and Fire Games and other events. They shared all their successes with their leader Bobby Corrales, known by many of his teammates as Papa Wong.
Bobby, a veteran deputy sheriff, spent 24 years with LASD before losing a hard-fought battle with leukemia on April 23 of this year. The former Wongs team members all got together, coming out of retirement to participate in the Santa Clarita games in Bobby’s memory. They will take the Central Park field at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, June 14 for the first time without Bobby. The team members could have entered the “senior” category but instead opted to compete in the “open” category to face the best in young softball talent and show complete respect for the Wong team that Bobby loved so much.
The team intends to honor Bobby’s family at the event and will wear a patch with Bobby’s retired number on it, Bobby “Papa Wong” Corrales – #11.
“This is for Bobby,” said Wongs team member Randy Levinson. “He battled in life and everything he was a part of. He is known, loved, and respected by all those in the law enforcement softball world and beyond. Bobby gave 24 years of service to the residents of Los Angeles County and fought leukemia until the very end. The least we can do is represent Bobby and fight as hard as we can in this open division. Bobby wouldn’t want or expect any less from us.”
Numerous entertainment events are scheduled to take place as part of the WSPFG during the evenings, providing opportunities for residents and competitor’s family members to enjoy the community and its diverse offerings.
Highlights for the week and opportunities for the community and residents to get involved with the games include the following:
“My Classic Rock Band” will be playing at Hyatt Regency Valencia on opening day from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13.
Bodybuilding is expected to attract hundreds of spectators from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center.
Boxing is always a crowd pleaser and one of the WSPFG’s most anticipated events. Boxing is schedule to take place Monday, June 15, Tuesday, June 16, Wednesday, June 17, and Friday, June 19 at Santa Clarita Studios. Check the website for times.
Tuesday night, June 16, the community is invited to rock out at an outdoor free concert on Town Center Drive in front of the Hyatt Regency Valencia featuring classic rock band, “Ace” from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Ace has been voted by Los Angeles Magazine as Los Angeles’ #1 “live” dance band in Southern California.
Thursday night, June 18 is “Law Enforcement and Firefighter Night” at Saddle Ranch Chop House in Universal City.
There are many ways for residents and businesses to get involved with the 2009 Western States Police & Fire Games, including exciting volunteer opportunities for adults 18 and older. Volunteer opportunities include registration, merchandise sales, score keeping, timekeeping, logistical and operational support. Volunteers receive a free T-shirt and lunch.
Businesses can also be a part of the Games, with visibility at the registration expo and through sponsorship opportunities. Volunteers and business owners interested in learning more should call (323) 526-5757 or visit WSPFG2009.org for more information.
The WSPFG originated in 1967 as the California Police Olympics, but in the decades that followed branched out to include other states and the inclusion of the Fire Department. Since its inception the games have grown tremendously and have been hosted in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming among other states.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Athletic Association is responsible for sponsoring the 2009 event, in association with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the County of Los Angeles, the City of Santa Clarita, the William S. Hart Union School District, and College of the Canyons.
For additional information about the WSPFG, including a full schedule of events and times, please visit WSPFG2009.org.