Seems like just the other day that seven years of focused Olympic preparation culminated in the arrival of the Olympic Torch in our Host city, Vancouver!
The Torch was welcomed enthusiastically by countless cities, towns and villages as it travelled over 45,000 kilometres across Canada. Now it had arrived at it’s final destination, and lit up the streets of downtown Vancouver for the Winter Games Vancouver/Whistler 2010! Perhaps you were here, perhaps you were in spirit?! Either way, excitement was high in the morning as thousands lined the streets to see the last of many chosen to carry the flame through the streets before the final ceremony later that evening.
No wonder! Vancouver is a beautiful city, and with the hosting of the Winter Olympics 2010, the city had been transformed. The tangible excitement was actually beyond building, it was pumping ~ More than 60,000 people witnessed first-hand the Olympic cauldron being lit in BC Place stadium during the opening ceremony that night. Earlier in the day, Arnold Schwarzenegger had the honour of carrying the 2010 Olympic torch through Stanley Park drawing huge crowds; the night before, Michael Buble carried it and was nearly swamped by enthusiastic supporters on the streets of Vancouver!
Along with thousands of other enthusiastic Canadians, I was fortunate enough to see the Torch not once, but twice the week it opened. I live in the lower mainland of Greater Vancouver, down near White Rock and the USA border… so you can imagine my delight when, purely by chance, driving through Surrey… I was delayed by cars stalled on the one side of the King George Highway, and soon discovered that the other side of the highway had been cleared for the Olympic Torch making its way to the Surrey City Hall.
What a thrill to be able to stand on the island – in the middle of the traffic – and watch the Vancouver 2010 Vans, bristling with cameras drive by with the torch bearer and his Olympic flame seconds later! The sun was shining and Canadians were happy to welcome the relay, cheering on the flame and all it represents for our proud and free country. Then again, with a little more effort many of us rose at 5 am to get to a shopping mall frequented by neighbours and friends nearby where the Torch was bound to set off for the City of White Rock to the south.
There we saw the same bustle, excitement and spirit while the Torch bearer was interviewed by local media. He prepared to start the first run of the day, down 152nd street towards White Rock, Semiahmoo and the Peace Arch Portal ceremonies. Again hundreds of people lined the streets despite the chilly, early morning air – children caught up in the excitement, parents relishing an opportunity not likely to happen again in their own back yard – ever…
Downtown, Vancouver was ready! This city, both visitors and locals alike, were transformed and excited for the upcoming festivities and competition ahead over the next 17 days… media, concerts, athletes, visitors, performances, banners, skyscrapers all proclaiming that now was the time ~ for the world and her best winter athletes to celebrate the spirit of Vancouver 2010!