On your mark, get set and its a go for the Special Olympics Pennsylvanias 45th annual Summer Games.
For the 27th consecutive year, Centre County on Thursday will welcome more than 2,000 athletes from across the state, including 71 local residents, 750 coaches and 2,500 volunteers for the start of the games.
Various competitions at Penn State and the surrounding region will take place Thursday to Saturday.
After preliminary competitions from 1-4:30 p.m. and a VIP reception at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the traditional Parade of Athletes to the opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. will proceed along Curtin and Porter roads to the park.
Bedford County Chamber of Commerce Director Kellie Goodman Shaffer and Blair County athlete Joe Sparky Lyle will serve as masters of ceremonies.
Law enforcement members who participated in the four-day Be a Fan Torch Run from Pittsburgh to State College will light the ceremonial Flame of Hope.
Individual, team and relay events will be held at nine venues, including the Northland Bowl, Centre Hills golf course and Penn States Snider Ag Arena, Intramural Building, White Building, Sarni Tennis Facility and McCoy Natatorium.
Athletes will compete in aquatics, basketball, bowling, equestrian sports, golf, gymnastics, softball, tennis and track and field.
On Saturday, Special Olympics Pennsylvania will show off its two emerging sports from 1-2 p.m.
Kayaking and flag football demonstrations will take place, respectively, at Biglar Field and the Penn State outdoor pool.
Steve Jones, a local radio talk-show host and Penn State football play-by-play announcer, will serve as master of ceremonies for the closing ceremonies at 4:30 p.m. Saturday on the East Halls Lawn at Penn State.
Events are free to the public.
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter @CRosenblumNews.