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Ruby anniversary

Lake Placid readies for 40th anniversary of 1980 Olympics

November 28, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - This village is gearing up for the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Winter Olympics, and planning is underway to celebrate this "ruby" year with a number of special events, exhibits and family activities, including a birthday party for the official mascot, Roni Raccoon.

Lake Placid hosted the XIII Olympic Winter Games from Feb. 13 to 24, 1980, and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, operated by the state OIympic Regional Development Authority at the Olympic Center next to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Rink in the Herb Brooks Arena, will be opening two exhibits this winter to celebrate the 40th anniversary. The exhibit highlighting the work of the National Weather Service Olympic Support Unit will open in mid-December, and the "Totally '80" exhibit will open in February.

"We are selecting objects from the collection that are our favorites," LPOM Director Alison Haas said about the "Totally '80" exhibit, which will explore the design of the games.

Article Photos

Spectators enjoy a day at the Mount Van Hoevenberg luge track during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake?Placid.
(Provided photo —?NOAA/John Kelley)

"Everything from color and what the logo means to Roni Raccoon and all those souvenirs that trigger memories for visitors around the world," Haas said. "And it really has to do with how graphics and the visual identity of the games has made a lasting impression."

The museum will also host a birthday party for Roni Raccoon during the exhibit's opening. The mascot was unveiled to the public in 1979. The image of Roni was created by Don Moss of Capital Sports, and the name was the result of a contest in which 12-year-old Tom Golonka of Guilderland won.

"We really need to celebrate Roni Raccoon's 40th birthday," Haas said. "I don't know his exact birth date, but I do know that posters and other items were created in 1979 using his image."

And there will be cake, possibly with Roni's face on it.

"We still need to figure out what his favorite flavor is," Haas said.

And Roni will be there, or at least someone in the Roni Raccoon mascot costume.

As part of the 40th anniversary celebration, the museum will be hosting an "Artifact Night," inviting the public to bring in their favorite 1980 Winter Olympic objects. That could range from official merchandise and pins to more personal items. The idea is to tell stories about these objects and what they mean to the people who own them.

"If you were here in 1980, you might have something signed by an athlete or you have photos of seeing Dorothy Hamill in the street," Haas said. "Or you remember trading a pin with this one person from Bulgaria. And all these stories that come out of objects are really fascinating to me."

More information about Artifact Night and the opening of the "Totally '80" exhibit will be released at a later date.


Olympic spirit

With the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Winter Olympics, the village is poised to celebrate the past, present and future of the Olympic movement in this region. Lake Placid first hosted the Olympics in 1932, and it continues to host international events such as the upcoming World Cups for luge, bobsled and skeleton. This village is home to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, USA Luge and USA Bobsled & Skeleton. Many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls still train here on a regular basis, including members of the U.S. biathlon team. This region has sent at least one athlete to each Winter Olympics since the first one in 1924.

Lake Placid continues to embody the Olympic spirit, and that's the theme of the 40th anniversary schedule.


The celebration

The following events are currently being planned.

- Torch run with 1980 Olympic Winter Games torchbearers and local athletes, followed by lighting of the 1980 Olympic cauldron on the grounds of the opening ceremony. State and local officials and past, present and future Olympians will be part of the ceremony.

- Speaking engagement and meet and greet with speedskater and Olympic medalist Dan Jansen

- First tracks at Whiteface Mountain with Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht

- Learn to luge with Olympic lugers and coaches

- Be a biathlete! Experience the sport of biathlon with Olympic biathletes.

- Athlete forum on Lake Placid's Olympic legacy with a Q&A featuring some of Lake Placid's Olympians

- Screening of the Disney movie "Miracle" at the Palace Theatre

- Cross-country or downhill ski with Olympians at Whiteface Mountain and Mount Van Hoevenberg

- Book signing by Wayne Coffey, author of "The Boys of Winter," an account of the "Miracle on Ice"

- '80s Family Fun Party at the Olympic Ski Jumps and other venues

- '80s-themed trivia night

- Learn the sport of curling on Mirror Lake

- Olympic-themed crafts for kids



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