Thomson sets sights on Whistler Pins 

Medallion idea stalled, but councillor still determined to get Whistlerites involved in Games

Tom Thomson is bidding adieu to his Whistler Medallion idea for now and focusing on a new program to get locals excited about the 2010 Games: Whistler Pins.

Sitting in front of a table covered with pins on Monday afternoon, the first-time councillor explained the idea came to him during last week's Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference. Almost all the visiting councilors and mayors brought pins from their hometowns and exchanged them enthusiastically throughout the event.

"Pinning is big," said Thomson as he pulled even more recently acquired pins from his pockets.

"And the most sought after pin was the Whistler pin... People were flat out asking Whistler councillors for their pins. We had a handful each to give out, and they were gone within almost moments."

Inspired by the conference, Thomson now wants to create a limited edition Whistler Olympic pin that would be sold within the resort municipality leading up to Feb. 2010.

Once the Games begin, the Whistler pins will become the "gold standard" of pin currency, and kids could trade them with Olympic spectators and athletes for other "loot."

"Any visitor that comes here will want to have a local pin because we are the host community, and the youngsters can trade them. It will be like playing with old bubble gum cards," he said.

Pins will be designed by a local artist and made in Canada, said Thomson. They will be high quality and sell for about $8 to $12 each.

While he wants support from the Vancouver Organizing Committee's (VANOC) and the municipality, Thomson is prepared to compensate a local artist $1,000 out of his own pocket if no one else jumps on board.

"It is at the moment on the desk of Mr. (Jim) Godfrey (of the Whistler 2010 Games office), and he will be taking that to the Vancouver Olympic Group (VANOC). But this is something that if they give it a seal of approval, fine, but if they don't, fine," said Thomson.

"If you come up with an idea and rely upon others to make it fly all the time, then maybe it is not a good enough idea."

So far, the response from the other Whistler councillors has been "lovely."

Whistler Pins was born out of the Whistler Medallion program, which Thomson launched in February after VANOC announced it was moving the official medal ceremonies from Celebration Plaza in the village to sports venues.

Thomson hoped presenting commemorative medallions to athletes in Celebration Plaza would still attract people into the village, as well as inspire the local youth.

But now VANOC has moved the official ceremonies back to Celebration Plaza, and Thomson said his medallion program will not pan out as he had imagined.

Instead, he hopes Whistler Pins will increase the community's Olympic fever.

"We want to make the Whistler Pin the gold standard of the pin currency," said Thomson.

"I think Whistlerites would be proud to wear pins or exchange them."

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