On Friday I had the chance to go see the Olympic torch relay on the final day of the run through downtown Vancouver with a few of my buddies from work. It was definitely an energetic and enthusiastic crowd that lined the streets. We watched a marked vehicle drop off a torch runner right across the street from where we initially stood so it looked like we had picked a good spot as we’d get a chance to see the flame change hands. The torch bearer looked excited standing there having her photo taken by tons of people.
We quickly realized through as time went on we would be better off crossing the street and pushing into the fray there as a bus pulled up and got stuck in the rolling traffic closure right in front of where we were standing.
People climbed on newspaper boxes and lights to get a good vantage point.
We noticed the parking garage across the street had tons of people standing on all levels looking out, they probably had a super view.
Eventually the convoy of the sponsors came along shortly followed by police escorts on various modes of transportation instructing the crowd to move back and then came the runner with the flame.
I was only able to get a couple of distant shots of the flame exchanging hands due to the throng but you can see it at least.
The crowds dispersed quite quickly after it was over, all the business people heading back to their respective offices and the tourists back to their sight-seeing.
Later on I was on our roof garden looking down at the action and saw a torch bearer walking down the street carrying his torch in a box. A passer-by I assume asked him to pose with his torch and he took it out and gamely posed. This started a continual stream of people walking by to do the same thing. I’m not sure how long he stood there doing it in the end but he was still being approached as I went back inside.
The opening ceremony last night was pretty spectacular. I loved the visual effects though I have to say a few segments went on a wee bit too long. I’m glad they acknowledged the elephant in the room and gave a respectful tribute to Nodar Kumaritashvili the luger who died in a practice run with a moment of silence. We had heard about the accident after we got back from the torch relay and man it was sad to hear. He was a very young man, younger than my oldest child. That gives you pause.
I was glad to see that they did include Terry Fox’s Mom Betty in these ceremonies, I was all for her being the one to light the cauldron. Speaking of which, yikes at the hydraulic malfunction! Sean and I were looking at each other wondering why the dramatic pause and the various final torch bearers standing there with their arms aloft with their grins plastered on their faces. When they finally said there was a problem with the cauldron coming out of the floor we both face palmed. Ouch. When they got three out of the four legs and one of the final torch bearers didn’t get anything to light I felt kind of bad for her but at least it wasn’t a 100% fail just 75%.
Today has been a day of protest in the downtown core. Groups of Hooligans smashing windows and damaging cars and other property on their way. I personally don’t have much time for protesters period. I never thought it was an effective method of getting your point across, particularly when I’ve been the one stuck in a car around them but the right to protest is part of the rights of freedom. At least PEACEFUL protest. When you have protest groups saying they still believe a protest is peaceful when there is vandalism, hooliganism and intimidation of pedestrians minding their own business trying to take in the sights of the city? I call bullshit.
It is going to be an interesting few weeks round these parts.