By MATT FURBER
Dalai Lama. Photo by Karen Day
As one of Idaho's most-anticipated events approaches, organizers of the Sept. 11 address by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama have been very professional, said Hailey Police Department Lt. David Stellers.
From Sept. 11 through Sept. 13, the Wood River Valley will host the Dalai Lama and an estimated 10,000 guests of event organizer Kiril Sokoloff.
A Ketchum resident, Sokoloff has underwritten a unique visit by the Tibetan Buddhist leader and the head of the Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala, India.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is making his first trip to Idaho and will be giving two public addresses at the Wood River High School football stadium, in Hailey. "A Message of Compassion and Healing" will be given on Sunday, Sept. 11, the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (restricted to people holding tickets allocated in July). "Laying the Foundation for the Future—A Special Address to the Children of Idaho" is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12.
"Things are busy but not stressful," said Renée Kline, event director. "It's just getting so exciting now. My brain is swimming with great things." Tickets are still available for the Sept. 12 youth address.
"It has been opened up to elementary school students," Kline said. "We were quite surprised how many parents wanted their kids to attend."
Event organizers report that some ticket holders have asked about the meaning of different color tickets. They said the colors indicate seating sections. There is one color for each bank of bleachers and three colors for the in-field seating.
"I'm not Buddhist, but everyone's curious about His Holiness," said event organizer Anne-Maree Imer, who is leaving after the Dalai Lama's visit to begin organizing for the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. "This is great because it's a nonprofit event, a change from the Olympics. It's not very often that 20,000 people see him at no cost."
Since inclement weather is forecast for the weekend, Kline recommended that people be prepared with a rain jacket. However, umbrellas will not be permitted.
As an estimated 83 percent of the people coming to the Sept. 11 address are Wood River Valley residents, Kline predicted that they would likely be well prepared. She added that people should also look for any last minute updates sent by e-mail.
"We're pretty much dialed in," said Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary.
McNary asked that people not try to park on Deerfield Road, Foxmoor Drive or North Woodside Boulevard, nor trespass on the Quigley Canyon area property.
There will be law enforcement officers and security at those sites, as well as in the hills behind the venue.
Kline said workers have been very busy completing the first phase of the "Garden of Compassion," being installed at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden south of Ketchum. The garden, which will be home to a Tibetan prayer wheel to be blessed by the Dalai Lama on Tuesday, Sept. 14, will be open to the public after his visit as a permanent legacy, beginning Thursday, Sept 15.