Saturday, March 13, 2010

Opening Ceremonies - wow, Wow, WOW!!!

The "Gordie Nicholsons" outside our hotel on the way to the Opening Ceremonies.

We are all back from the Opening Ceremonies at BC Place.  The Opening blew us away! 

Starting out on a funny note, anyone who's met the Nicholson Clan before knows that when we go out, we go all out.  Since it was not technically a "game day", we just put on our basic garb, a few of us posing as a group for a photo with some Mounties.  Next thing we knew, there were a dozen more random people taking our photo, and we were being stopped for photos all the way to our seats.  One of the Hunt's noted that we'd probably be on YouTube by midnight!  We definitely did have a lot of woo-hoo!  (although, after the cheering tonight, I hope I still have voice enough for woo-hoo for tomorrow's game!)  Can't wait to see the reaction when we're out in full force for tomorrow mornings game...

The Opening Ceremonies were, in a word, FUN!  BC Place holds about 60,000 people and the Opening was sold out.  I was expecting more pomp, a more "brass band & interpretive cultural dancing" sort of event.  But the whole production was just get-up-from-your-seat very, very cool.

The message of the event was to focus on abilities and how these athlete inspire the young.  Children of various ages and various degrees of ability were involved heavily in the dancing and stage presence throughout the evening.  One highlight was breakdancer Lucas Lazy Legs on crutches, tearing up the stage like nobody's business.  There was heavy audience participation and the crowd stood during the entire parade of athletes as a DJ played tunes and got everyone waving their pompoms and singing along.  There was pyro, rap, rock 'n' roll, and even an onstage skate board park being shared with skateboards, bikes, and wheelchairs.

The moment the Canadian flag became visible in the stadium, the crowd went completely crazy.  Proud to say that local boy and captain, Jean Labonte, carried the flag to lead the Team Canada contingent into the stadium.  Team Canada took their time, savouring the atmosphere and mingling with the children onstage before taking their seats for the rest of the ceremony.

Jean Labonte leads the way for Team Canada at the Opening Ceremonies
(borrowed photo from The Vancouver Sun - thanks!)

It was encouraging to see both our Governor General and Prime Minister in attendance.  Michaelle Jean declared the Games officially open with sincerity and enthusiasm.  Another really great surprise occurred when another local sledge hockey player, Herve Lord, was chosen to take the Oath of Athletes on behalf of all of the competitors.  He did a really great job.

The evening culminated with a video montage of Rick Hansen's Man in Motion Tour, with Rick himself coming out to speak - he said that nowhere in the definition of athlete does it say you have to use your legs.  This was followed by Lloyd Robertson introducing Canadian hero, the late Terry Fox, which led perfectly into Terry's parents, Betty & Rolly Fox, bringing the torch into the stadium and lighting a ring of torches around the cauldron, followed by a 15 year old aspiring athlete finally lighting the cauldron. 

Paralympic Cauldron

The ending, having a future athlete do the honours, reminded Gordie & I of a speech we heard at a Team Canada pep rally in Salt Lake City 8 years ago.  Patrick Jarvis said that the Paralympic athletes of tomorrow may not have had their disabling injury yet.  Anything can happen - I am sure we will hear more stories of this in the next 10 days.

The Opening Ceremonies transcended culture, country, age, and ability; Mind, Body, Spirit - the Paralympic tenets.  I am extra proud to be a Canadian today.

An early pep rally tomorrow morning with the Hockey Canada folks and then on to UBC's Thunderbird Arena for Canada's first game (against Italy).



  1. Hi Jenn,
    Thank you so much for keeping us connected! Although many of us cannot be there in presence our hearts and whoo hoo's are definitely there!! Thank you for sharing your memory of the comments made by Patrick Jarvis...

    Live it up!!!! Love it up!!! Can't wait to see the game, will be looking for you guys!!! Shannon (Crawford)Brownrigg

  2. Love to see you guys in all your garb! We will be watching for you all at the game! Take care, Go Canada Go! Ann and gang Villeneuve