Today, I had the great pleasure of seeing the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch in full flame.
Wait, that doesn't sound nearly exciting enough.
I SAW THE TORCH!!!
It was very windy, which made it feel very cold, but I was bundled up in some of my favourite winter gear and waited patiently with a big smile on my face... Along with a whole bunch of school kids and quite a few adults, given the 12:49 ETA of the flame.
The atmosphere was electric. The excitement was almost palpable. The kids were chanting eagerly, from the Montreal-favourite "Olé" song to "Go Canada Go!" to their class number, in competition with other classes, of course.
The sponsors, Coca-Cola and RBC, distributed mini-tambourines, flags, and those blow-up noisemakers that have become so common at sporting events and every time a car drove by, whether it was a random commuter or a cop, the crowd became feverish.
Finally, the relay vehicles -which all have cool "Flame 7", "Torch 5", "Relay 4" style license plates - announced that the torch would be showing up in 5 minutes and the crowd-warmer RBC and Coke trucks came by.
Then, someone standing near me yelled out excitedly, "I can see the flame!" And the crowd went wild!
It was such a spectacular moment. Being surrounded by all these strangers, united in our quest to see the flame, to be part of something bigger than us. Hopes and dreams for Canada's success in the upcoming games - and personal achievements too - silently filled the air as we all got our cameras ready and started waving.
And then, I saw his face. I don't know who the first Kirkland torchbearer was, but his face told me everything I needed to know. The pride, the excitement, the joy in his eyes and in his smile was reflected in all of us, young and old. For that one moment, I felt what he felt. For that little bit of time, I felt like an Olympian athlete: proud, excited, accomplished.
And the joy... I don't think anyone could stop smiling. Some people ran after the flame, others stayed and gushed with their friends... My camera battery died due to the cold so I stayed put, but it was worth it. For those quick glimpses of the flame - which at times almost looked like it was going to blow out due to the wind - it was worth it all.
Now, I can really feel the Olympic Spirit. I'm excited, I'm pumped and... I'm going to Vancouver! :D
1 day ago