Monday, March 29, 2010

Fireworks show ends celebration

DATE: March 22, 2010
BY: Clare Ogilvie, The Province
DETAILS: The verdict is in.

Sunday night at the closing ceremony for the Paralympics, Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, declared they were "the best-ever Winter Paralympic Games."

As the crowds erupted at the accolade, it was clear that not even the misty rain could dampen the spirits of the thousands who gathered to say farewell to the Paralympic and Olympic Games on Sunday night.

As an explosive fireworks display, accompanied by exuberant shouts from the crowd, ended close to two hours of official celebration, there was no doubt that the party in Whistler was set to go long into the night.

"I wasn't going to bother coming up for the Games," said Vancouver resident Maevis Beach, who owns a Whistler condo.

"But I came up for a couple of nights for the Olympics and I never left. I'll never forget this. I don't want tonight to end, I don't want it to end at all."

It was, said John Furlong, the CEO of the 2010 organizing committee, both a celebration of the Paralympics and a farewell to the Games.

"Tonight we take our final steps across the finish line of Canada's Games," Furlong told the cheering crowd.

"Our work is done.

"Paralympians you have dazzled us with your agility, your strength, your endurance, your sportsmanship. You have given us drama and thrills we will never forget."

From the parade of more than a thousand athletes and officials through the village at the beginning of the closing ceremony to the passionate vocals of Chantal Kreviazuk, to the awesome display of First Nations Hoop dancing,itembracedVanoc 'sthemeof "With Glowing Hearts."

It celebrated Canada -- using athletes to hold a flag the size of a basketball court -- and its regions with throat singers and a huge blanket toss, which saw wheelchair racing Paralympian Kelly Smith fly into the air. "What a blast we have had here in Whistler," said Craven.

As the end was celebrated so too was the start of a new Paralympics, with the handover of the official flag to Sochi, Russia -- the next Winter Games' host in 2014.

As it began to sink in that the Games were over for Canada, performers from a Whistler dance troupe spread onto the stage heating up the spirits of those watching again, until it truly felt like the glowing heart of Whistler.


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