Al-Impics is Los Angeles County's largest constituent-driven recovery event.
About Los Angeles Al-Impics
In 1973, a tradition was started in Castaic, California by Kurt Freeman, Center Manager, at Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center, called the Al-Impics. It began at Warm Springs as an extension of an event called Logging Day. The day centered around Tug-of-War in the dirt during the fall season. Logging Day was well received so Freeman developed a special event for the spring/summer season. The event started as a play day where men would race and compete for small prizes. The following year, Warm Springs challenged Acton Rehabilitation Center, Lake Hughes and Mira Loma. The games became very popular; media took notice and the event began to grow. Other agencies began to participate and the Al-Impics was born.
On May 11, 1974, the Al-Impics moved from Warm Springs to the College of the Canyons in Valencia, California. The stadium at that time was not complete; however, the first games held at COC was the beginning of a 26-year relationship in which the games got better and better each year.
Originally, the event was called the Alcoholics Olympics. Some of the original participants were the hosts, Acton/Warm Springs and some new competitiors, which included: Grand View, Indian Lodge, Beacon House, Royal Palms, Camarillo, Harbor Light, Mini-Twelve Steps House, Oliveview Hospital, Long Beach General Hospital, Hollywood ARC, Clare Foundation, and a few independent agencies. This was the first time that this many treatment centers and hospital substance abuse wards got together for a common theme other than sobriety. The response from the Recovery Community was overwhelming. From that historic day on May 11, 1974, until today, the Alcoholic Olympics continued to grow and attract a large participation from the general community as volunteers.
In the early 1980s, news spread that the recovery community started a small networking competition about the Al-Impics. We began getting inquiries about how many people would attend next Al-Impics games. By the late 1980s, agencies outside the greater Los Angeles area began to attend. The number of attendees started to grow. In 1985, there were approximately 1,200 people in attendance. By 1989, there were approximately 3,000 attendees. By the early 1990s, agencies from Canada, Mexico and San Jose were participating in the Al-Impics games. The joy and camaraderie of the recovering community had now established an annual event that many agencies looked forward to all year long.
By 1992, the Al-Impics had a record breaking attendance in excess of 5,000 people at the College of the Canyons. There was media coverage from the Los Angeles Times and the Newhall Signal who reported about the healing and magical energy that was generated from the spectators and participants. From that year forward, the Al-Impics continued to grow in size and meaning to all who participated.
The Al-Impics continuted to generate interest and increased participation. Excitement grew and the recovery community began to anticipate the annual event. The Al-Impics hosted 3,500 to 5,000 participants each year. In 1997, Acton and Warm Springs hosted the Al-Impics at their facility for the last time. The event was held at COC for the next three years.
In 2000, COC completed construction on a brand new stadium and were no longer willing to host the Al-Impics. The Antelope Valley Rehabilitation Centers could not find an alternative site and would no longer sponsor the event. There wasn't an Al-Impics event that year. The recovery community voiced their disappointment about the cancellation of the event which prompted the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to look for a new sponsor and host.
In 2001, the Los Angeles County Alcohol and Drug Program Administration agreed to sponsor the Al-Impics. Los Angeles County 2nd District Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke's office led the project and appointed Alcohol Commissioner Cheryl Branch as Chair of the Al-Impics Host Planning Committee. A 25-person committee was formed; made up of staff from treatment centers throughout Los Angeles County. The committee included two staff from AVRC to serve as advisors, Lynne Dahl and Rico Cruz.
The Al-Impics is now being hosted by multiple agencies with Special Service for Groups (SSG) as the lead hosting agency. SSG assigned Jayme Swan to the position of Event Coordinator. Now revived, Al-Impics was held at Los Angeles Southwest College. The event was successful considering it was the first event of this magnititude for many of the committee members.
In 2005, the Al-Impics moved to Compton Community College. Today, the event continues to grow and gain much participation from the recovering community and the community at large.