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Ocala prepares to celebrate its three Olympic medalist in speed skating

The Ocala Fire Rescue uses water cannons to welcome one of two jets bringing Olympic medalists to the city for a welcome home celebration. Image: Ocala via Facebook

OCALA – The city of Ocala will celebrate its trio of speed skating Olympic medalists with a parade on Silver Springs Boulevard and a downtown ceremony Saturday evening.

Ocala doesn’t have much cold weather and it doesn’t have an ice skating rink. What it does have is three Olympians who medaled at Beijing Winter Olympics in speed skating.

Erin Jackson won gold in the women’s 500 meter. And Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia took home bronze medals in other events.

Now Ocala is getting ready to give them a warm welcome with a breakfast sponsored by the Chamber and Economic Partnership on Friday and a reception that evening at the Marion County Black History Museum.

During the day, they’ll visit their old high schools and talk to the students.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, a Parade of Champions begins at Webb Field and travels down Silver Springs Boulevard to an event on the downtown square. Politicians will load the athletes with honors, and fans will have a chance to meet them.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes reports on aging-related issues for WMFE/WMFV. Please contact him at jbyrnes@wmfe.org. He came to WMFE from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after ... Read Full Bio »