Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Mayor Daley closes Chicago Gay Games, in colorful ceremony

FINAL FESTIVITIES Cyndi Lauper, dressed in a rainbow-colored Statue of Liberty outfit, headlined performers wrapping a week of competitive sports

AP , CHICAGO

Salviatore Lamia, an Algonquin Shinnecock Indian from Long Island, New York, shows off his medals from the long and triple jump as he watches a volley of beach balls during the closing ceremony of the Gay Games in Chicago on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Mayor Richard Daley helped Chicago say goodbye to Gay Games VII on Saturday during a colorful closing ceremony at Wrigley Field.

Daley, who has been vocal about his desire for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympic Games, escorted the Gay Games flag during its ceremonial transfer to an official from Cologne, Germany, the host city of the 2010 games.

"As mayor, I want you to know how much we enjoyed having you here this past week," said Daley, who also spoke at the Gay Games' opening ceremony a week earlier at Soldier Field. "I'm sure you found Chicago is a very welcoming place for members of the gay and lesbian community."

Singer Cyndi Lauper, dressed in a rainbow-colored Statue of Liberty outfit, headlined performers at the ceremony. It took place on a breezy day with the temperature around 25oC -- a welcome respite from a broiling heat wave that greeted an estimated 12,000 athletes at the start of the games and a midweek thunderstorm that disrupted some events.

"I feel like this is becoming sort of a tradition for me since I performed last time the Gay Games were in the States, in New York City in 1994," Lauper said in a statement on the Gay Games Web site.

Performers also included Chicago's Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps, also known as ROTC, who twirled white ceremonial rifles to the disco hit, Don't Leave Me This Way. The crowd also tossed around hundreds of beach balls handed out for a promotion by the Illinois Lottery.

The games, held every four years, started in 1982 in San Francisco with events open to gay and straight participants, regardless of physical ability. A competing event called the Outgames will begin July 29 in Montreal, Canada. The Outgames resulted from a dispute between the Federation of Gay Games and organizers in Montreal, where the Gay Games originally were slated to be held.

Events included traditional sports like tennis, soccer, track and power lifting. Same-sex pairs figure skating and ballroom dancing drew crowds of cheering spectators.

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