On Sunday my 5-year-old Hannah and I attended the Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. To get the tickets, I entered into the Canadian ticket lottery last year. You could request tickets to events, and back-up events, too. They tabulated all of the requests, and when demand exceeded supply, they used a random drawing. I requested tickets to the Opening Ceremonies and short track speed skating. My back-up events were the Closing Ceremonies and another short track speed skating event.
I chose short-track because my husband Jon was working at that venue. The speed skating events were short, so they seemed like a good choice for kids, and I assumed there wouldn’t be much demand for them. I was wrong – short track tickets were the 3rd most requested after men’s hockey and the Opening Ceremonies, and I didn’t luck out. But the Closing Ceremonies were a pretty amazing score, even in the nosebleed seats that I could
I decided to take my daughter Hannah because Jon was sort of Olympic-ed out by the time the Games ended, and he wanted a chance to stay home. So Jon and 18-month-old Jacob got some quality time together and Hannah and I headed out on our own.
As it happens, we left the house about 3 minutes after the Canadian men’s hockey team won Olympic Gold. This was huge, I’m not sure that I can even say how huge it was. On our train ride downtown more revelers got on at every stop. I quickly picked up on the rule that when someone boards the SkyTrain decked out in a Canadian flag, or like a Canadian flag, or wearing a Team Canada sweater, everyone on the train has to cheer and clap and yell things like, “Gold, baby! YEAH!” That train was filled to bursting with national pride, so much that we spontaneously broke out into ‘O Canada’ at one point.
Our destination, BC Place, is right next door to
General Motors Canada Hockey Place, where the gold medal game took place, and they share a SkyTrain station. When we got off there were big crowds milling around, cheering and carrying on and generally celebrating the win. It was fairly good-natured, and at just 4pm I don’t think anyone was too drunk (yet). I high-fived several strangers on my walk to BC Place. How could you not?
The trip to the stadium was smoother than I expected. We got through security no problem, and there was a bit of a back-up waiting to get up to the main entrance, but it wasn’t awful. Luckily, Hannah was pretty patient and good-natured about the whole thing.
We made it to our seats with time to spare. We all received audience participation kits, which contained various props to help with the show. There were snazzy ponchos so that they could project images on to us, moose antlers, snow globes and big coloured paper cards. For the hour before the ceremony started there was a pre-ceremony show with periodic interruptions so that we could practice our roles. And then during the show there were audience leaders in the stands showing us what to do.
It was pretty cool to be there, I must say. I didn’t get emotional as I expected I would, partly because Hannah kept interrupting the action to share a choice tidbit about her friend at school or complain about the noise level. She’s 5, it’s what she does. And then she sobbed for 7 minutes straight when they extinguished the flame, and that was no fun. But on the whole she enjoyed herself immensely, and I was glad to have her with me. I hope that it turns into a great memory that lasts her a long time.
Being in the middle of the Olympics was a pretty surreal experience. I’m really glad I got to have it, because I won’t get another shot in my lifetime. Plus, now I have a snazzy poncho to wear around the house. What’s not to love about that?