There's something that stood out about 2002. They were amazing moments and the feeling is still there. – Bill Schuffenhauer, silver medal bobsledder

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the community converged on The Gallivan Center Saturday to celebrate the spirit of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

The trademark U.S.A. beret dotted the crowd of participants there to trade pins, ice skate, take in a special program and revel in memories of what Mayor Ralph Becker called the most "exciting chapter in the city's history."

Louise Merritt, of Taylorsville camped out early with her daughter Connie in tow. The Utah resident of 50 years said she plans to attend every event honoring the 10th anniversary of the games, including the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron and Stars on Ice event.

"I love the Olympics," Merritt said. "Just the electricity from all of the people being together. ... I'm hoping it will come back in 2022."

Silver medal bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer was born in raised in Utah and while he has competed in three separate winter games, he said none has rivaled those here in his hometown.

"There's something that stood out about 2002," he said Saturday. "They were amazing moments and the feeling is still there."

He credited the number of volunteers and the message given to the U.S. athletes by then-President George W. Bush in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

"He told us to step up and be heroes," Schuffenhauer recalled, adding that the U.S. took in more medals that year than almost any other. "I've loved it here. I've always been here and will always be here."

Schuffenhauer later took the stage as part of a program featuring Becker, former Salt Lake mayor Deedee Corradini and the One Voice Children's Choir. Dozens of children donning brightly-colored scarves sang a number of songs, including the Olympic theme: "Light the Fire Within."

Corradini said the performance gave her goosebumps and hearing the songs and attending events such as these made the city feel "like old home."

"It's hard for me to believe it's been 10 years, it feels like five or six," she said. "We've got so many young people who weren't around in those days."

Still, Todd Suekawa said the young people are at the heart of the celebrations. The Salt Lake City man was at a pin-trading table where he was meeting with fellow 2002 Olympic pin enthusiasts.

"This is the perfect town to have the Olympics," Suekawa said. "We're world class."

A young freckle-faced boy walked up to the table — pin in hand — and Suekawa paused.

"That's what this is all about."

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