Lincoln, Neb. The Opening Ceremonies for the 29th annual Cornhusker State Games--featuring skydivers, fireworks, a parade of athletes, a basketball/unicycle exhibition by a family of 14, a mascot race, a concert by Groove Puppet and the revelation of the Mystery Torchlighter--are set for 8 p.m. Friday, July 19 at Lincoln’s Seacrest Field, 7600 A St.
Competition actually began July 13, with 381 swimmers taking to the water at Woods Pool and 17 sporting clays marksmen breaking targets at Lincoln Trap & Skeet. The remainder of the 67 sports commence on July 20, with more than 11,000 athletes registered overall.
The Opening Ceremonies are preceded by SportFest at 5 p.m. featuring a meal for athletes and guests, inflatable games, temporary tattoos, a tennis demo, vendor booths, photo booths, a meet-and-greet and Sportsmanship Rally with the Husker softball team, several performances by Lincoln’s En Pointe Dance Academy and a sneak preview of the Crevier Family’s Spintastic show. Organizers expect more than 5,000 at SportFest and 9,000 at the Opening Ceremonies.
The Ceremonies are kicked off by the Olympic-style parade of athletes, led by recently-retired East High Basketball and Track Coach Ed McPherren as the honorary parade marshal.
Celebrity guests include U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Brigadier General Daryl Bohac of the Nebraska National Guard, Husker Softball Coach Rhonda Revelle and Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler.
Skydiver Mike Blackshear will make his 29th jump into the Opening Ceremonies for a perfect attendance record since the Games began in 1985. Fellow jumper Larry Bartlett, who will—as usual—fly in with the American flag in tow with 27 Games O.C appearances under his belt.
The mascot lineup includes Sylvester—Lincoln Southwest, Runza Rex, Homer—Lincoln Saltdogs’, Sergeant Rock--National Guard, Sporty the Torch—Nebraska Sports Council, Haywire—Lincoln Haymakers, Casey & Stormy—Omaha Stormchasers, Subman—Subway, Buzz the Bee—Applebee’s, I.C. Starz—Lincoln Stars and The Penny—Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs.
The headline act, including Bruce and Diane Crevier and their 12 children, do a show they call Spin-tacular, combining basketball and unicycle tricks with inspirational messaging. The family travels the nation performing at half-time shows for NCAA and NBA teams and has appeared on national television multiple times, most recently on the first two rounds of this season’s America’s Got Talent. Bruce Crevier holds the Guinness World Record for spinning one basketball the longest time at 22 hours and 12 minutes.
Groove Puppet has been performing rock originals and covers at venues across the Midwest since 2000. The seven-piece band will bring its mix of horns, a driving rhythm section and lively vocals to the post-torchlighting concert.
The national anthem will be sung by Fremont 12 year-old Payton Eyler, who won the third annual Cornhusker State Games National Anthem contest, sponsored by Amigos/Kings Classic. The 7th Grader-to-be has already performed the anthem for a UNO Hockey game and numerous school events in Fremont.
In keeping with tradition, the identity of the 2013 Torchlighter will not be revealed until the end of the Ceremonies. Once the caldron is ablaze, this year’s honorary chairmen, Jeff Barclay and Scott Ritter owners of Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs, a long-time sponsor of the Games, will declare the competitions open. The fireworks display and Groove Puppet concert will cap the show.
Chris Lofgreen, voice of the Lincoln Saltdogs, will handle P.A. announcer duties and KOLN-KGIN anchors Kevin Sjuts and Chad Silber will serve as field hosts. KFRX Radio morning host Lindsey Nielsen is the emcee for SportFest performances. Veteran CSG volunteer Dave Tinius is the Opening Ceremonies Chairman and Lincoln Journal-Star Entertainment Writer Kent Wolgamott is the show director.
Admission is free for registered athletes. For all others: $10 for adults, $5 for students age 6-18 and free for kids five and under. All admission fees include the SportFest meal and Opening Ceremonies admission. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or at the Nebraska Sports Council offices at 4903 N. 57th Street in Lincoln.
The Cornhusker State Games is conducted by the Nebraska Sports Council.