All I can say is, WOW. What a thrill the opening night of the 2010 Olympic Games was for me, and for tens of thousands of others celebrating in our downtown core and the millions across the country. Like most of you I watched the Opening Ceremony on a TV set, and like most I concluded that BC Place never looked so dramatic and pleasing to the eye. That's saying something, as the gargantuan domed stadium has never been thought of as pretty. The brilliant stroke was getting all the spectators to wear a light coloured poncho, giving them all a drum, a light wand and instructions on how to participate in the night's proceedings. The end result was visually stunning.
CityCaucus.com had the pleasure to be invited to watch the opening ceremonies at a reception held at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In the plaza at Robson Square, it was amazing to see thousands assemble (click links for images), umbrellas in hand to defend against the elements, and watch the ceremony on a giant projection screen. Organizers of the BC Canada Pavilion at the VAG received the cooperation of their neighbour Sears to use their blank white wall. All it needed was a little powerwashing, which the pavilion took care of. Robson Square has become a giant, and exciting living room full of free ice skating, fireworks, and people riding the Ziptrek line.
In my opinion there were many moments of the Opening Ceremony that were extremely moving, but here are a few of my highlights.
- The opening welcome/bienvenue from the representatives of the Four Host First Nations was a brilliant stroke. It was deeply symbolic of the importance of First Nations to these Games.
- Slam poet Shane Koyczan had me hanging on every word
- The orcas crossing the floor and the light effects that projected rolling waves were stunning; the room I was in broke out into applause
- VANOC CEO John Furlong's speech was simple and powerful for a man who has clearly risen to the challenge of creating a great Games
Above all, however, the most moving performance was that of kd lang (I'm spelling it lower case, the way I always remember she would). As with the strong presence of aboriginal culture in our opening ceremony, having an iconic member of the queer community as one of Canada's proud representatives says a lot about us. kd has sung Leonard Cohen's masterpiece Hallelujah many times, but I cannot imagine a more powerful rendition than last night's.
After the ceremony it was simply amazing to see the throngs pour into the streets of Vancouver's downtown. So many smiles and so much energy and joy. What really impressed was "Ignite the Dream," the nightly laser and fireworks show staged at Robson Square. HUGE columns of flame would shoot up, warming you in the cool night air. After that skaters jumped on the ice after the Zamboni tidied it up.
We wanted to avoid crowds on the Canada Line right after the ceremony ended, so we decided to let our kid stay up past bedtime, watch the fireworks at Robson and wait before heading home. It was interesting to be walking around just after 11pm on Robson & Granville Streets with a little one. The crowds were huge, but not unruly. I saw one drunk being attended to on a mini-paramedic vehicle, but everyone else just seemed extremely happy. Considering that there were tens of thousands of people on the streets, the security presence was extremely low key.
Vancouver, we're holding the world's biggest party for the next two weeks. I hope that you and your family members all get to join in the fun.