This past summer, like a good chunk of the world, I watched the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. One of the things that most stood out for me was how uber cool David Beckham looked carrying the torch down the Thames on a speedboat. It was all rather dreamy and James Bond of the London organizers.
Compare that to the Vancouver opening, where we proceeded to hoist our greatest living sports hero, Wayne Gretzky – the Great One himself, onto the back of a pick-up truck (!) and sent him down the fan infested streets of Vancouver towards the Olympic Cauldron. Gretzky looked more than a bit annoyed. Maybe it was because it was raining. Maybe it was because the truck looked like it could be swarmed by rabid hockey fans at any moment. Or maybe it was because there was actually a man propping Gretzky up by the buttocks, so as to prevent the Great One from flying overboard.
It’s nearly impossible to find a picture of the chaos of the Gretzky torch relay but this video gives you a good idea of how it went down:
Needless to say, one country did it better. Well played England. Well played.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the cauldron lit by Wayne Gretzky still stands today; the area, known as Jack Poole Plaza, has become a notable tourist highlight and often plays host to large scale concerts and public gatherings.
I didn’t live in this city during 2010 but I did visit during the Vancouver Olympics and of course caught a glimpse of the cauldron in its heyday. I describe it as a glimpse because due to security reasons everyone had to stay far away from the flame and behind a chain link fence. Needless to say, it all made for some rather dreadful pictures.
After the Olympics, the cauldron was extinguished and it has largely remained so except for a few extremely rare occasions – one of which took place this past September.
Imagine my surprise, when during my walk home from the Skytrain, I turned around and saw this:
The cauldron was lit! And to top it all off it was an absolutely gorgeous night!!!!
Those of you that know me well, won’t be surprised to hear that I ran home, grabbed every camera and lens I owned, leashed Daisy, and went back down to the Olympic Cauldron to join the curious, gathering in awe of the beautiful sight.
It was an admittedly cold night but the flame kept me warm while I happily snapped the time away.
There was something magical about the atmosphere that night. People seemed to stop whatever they were doing so that they could spend hours at a time near the flame. Everyone was happy. Strangers were chatting with each other. And tourists couldn’t believe their luck.
Daisy and I stayed there until the sun had set and the wind became too much to bear. And as we walked away that night, to our home a short distance away, I felt grateful for what I’m sure will always remain one of the loveliest nights I have ever spent in Vancouver.
Question: When was the last time you experienced an unexpectedly wonderful moment?