Friday, February 19, 2010

Pre-Opening Ceremonies

Originally published on February 19, 2010 on My Life Is Like A Song

There was too much to write about my day at the Opening Ceremony. You can read part 1 here and the post about the actual ceremony here.

It was a week ago, this moment, that I was sitting in BC Place watching the Opening Ceremonies. I never imagined that it would take me this long to blog about it but I was much busier on my holiday than I thought I would be and I guess in the end, it's better late than never.

I arrived at the venue at 3pm, three hours before the ceremony would start. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to walk around, take photos, and buy souvenirs before having to take my seat at 5pm. Knowing I would be rushed after the ceremony to catch the last bus and ferry back to Victoria, I wanted to ensure I took the time to take in the whole venue.

I was overwhelmed with emotion as I walked into my section. I stood at the entrance for a while taking it all in. The usher took my photo with my iPhone (he was busier taking photos of spectators than finding their seats).

At the other end of the arena is the stage and where the flags would be raised.

I then went down to my seat to admire the view I would have during the ceremony.

I was 7th row beside the ramp. The bottom of the ramp is visible on the right of the photo. The ramp would be deflated after the snowboarder came down and this would be the entrance for the athletes, the Olympic flag and the Olympic torch. The dignitaries' box is up on the right.

At our seats, there was a bag that contained an octoganol box which would double as a tambourine filled with props we would use during the ceremony. There was also a program that detailed what would be seen during the ceremony.

I went for a walk around the stadium to get different views. This was the view from the other side of the ramp (and further to the side):

View from the other side of the arena, looking back at the ramp and my section:

I bought an Opening Ceremony t-shirt as a souvenir, grabbed a bite to eat and really don't know where else the two hours went.

At 5pm, we were asked to be in our seats to rehearse what we would have to do during the ceremony. Time to open my box. There was a flashlight that we would use at various times during the ceremony including when the cauldron was lit. There was a candle-like flashlight that we would use when kd Lang would sing. There was a drumstick for banging the drum during Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado's and at other times. There were various "leaders" around the stadium that would let us know which prop we needed to take out and what to do with it (when to light it, when to turn it off, the rhythm of the drumming, etc.). Sometimes we would need to look at the screen to find out who would be lighting their flashlights. We all had a different number from 1 to 4. The screen would show the numbers and we would light our flashlight when our number was shown. We were also given ponchos to wear so that the lights would reflect better off the spectators. I can't say that the close-ups of the people in the audience shown on television look good with those ponchos, but I guess it helped for the venue shots...especially when the countries' flags were reflected on the crowd.

At first I was concerned that I would miss out on seeing some of the ceremony. I knew I would want to have photos and I would miss some moments because I would be busy taking photos and videos...but now realizing I would also be busy with these props I wondered how much I would enjoy the ceremony...but then I realized that I was part of the entertainment and part of the ceremony and it made it even more special. Just like all the other volunteers, I felt that I was a part of the Opening Ceremonies. Watching them on television when I got back home would be even more memorable.

We practiced the countdown a few times. The bottom of our boxes was either dark or white. We were to hold it up when our number was called. A light would shine on the spectators (and boxes) to spell out the numbers with the light boxes spelling out the numbers. My section would start the countdown at "10".

A countdown started on the screen and as it approached two minutes...I took a moment to photograph it, take in the moment and be thankful for being there.

And then, the real countdown was on....10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!!!

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