Markham celebrates 1-year countdown to Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

;widows: auto;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;word-spacing:0px’>The crowd is rather small but the support for the Pan Am Games is high.

About 100 people are wandering a backstreet of Markham, where an unfinished aquatics facility sits and Pachi the mascot shakes hands and has its picture taken.

Vendors are shilling everything from jewelry to pulled pork, funnel cakes and ice cream, while Caribbean-style music is performed on stage.

Markham is hosting a one-year countdown to the Pan Am games today.

"It’s wonderful for the greater Toronto  area and Toronto in general," said Adrian Accinenelli, who, along with his son James, 10, came to check out the event.

"I hope it inspires a lot of young people to get into sports," Accinenelli said.

He hopes to volunteer for the games next year, but if he can’t, then Accinenelli wants to see water polo and whatever else he can get tickets to.

Gordon, who did not want to give his last name, is also excited to have the games in the GTHA because it will "highlight the lifestyle that Canada has to offer by hosting the games."

It will be a great opportunity to be exposed to other countries and cultures through sport, he said.

The cost of the games — at least $2.5 billion — has some people questioning the value of hosting the games, especially when the marquee athletes are not likely to participate.

"I’m concerned about the cost of everything and it’s not limited to the Pan Am Games," Gordon said.

And when it comes to the additional traffic during the games?

"Without the games, traffic is already a problem. It’s what’s required," Gordon said.

"You get the good with the bad. Sometimes you need to take one for the team," Accinenelli said.

The event runs until 8 p.m. on Enterprise Boulevard from Rivis Road to Main Street Unionville and at Bill Crothers Secondary School.

There is no parking at the festival site, except for a very small number of spaces at Crothers.

Shuttle buses will be provided from Unionville GO Station and Markville Shopping Centre.

Markham Pan Am Countdown

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