Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 Olympics: Believe It!

BELIEVE IT OR NOT I sent Vancouver Tourism one of my Penelope Greeting Cards, along with a brief description of how my Penelope Puddle character could come to life at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. I sent this proposal in 2006 soon after it became known Vancouver was the accepted location for the games. Although my ideas didn’t take wing, it is ironic that the card accompanying my proposal had only one word on it. That word was Believe ... the iconic theme that eventually promoted the Olympics and was reiterated in 2010 on a red painted rock in front of White Rock's City Hall.

It is difficult NOT to get into the spirit of things now that the big event is at hand. The White Rock area seemed freshly starched in anticipation of the torch coming through. The weather a couple of days ago was placid and the mood of the people strolling by was tinged with expectation. I parked my umbrella to explore in and around where the torchbearer would travel.

The Pier was pristine and looked roomy enough to receive hundreds of visitors from near and far.

The White Rock Museum and former Train Station was filled with historical items and giftware to please souvenir seekers from all parts of the globe.

Balloons decorated the entrance way of one shop, showing nearly all the five Olympic colours of blue, yellow, green, red and black.

Local artist Elizabeth Hollick wove her whimsical magic on a mural by illustrating balloons that were painted mostly in Olympic colours.

An enormous fanciful seashell was drawn on the lengthy wall to welcome the torchbearer and onlookers to come.

The famous White Rock, of course, was also depicted on the multi-coloured mural spreading across the face of a long cement wall.

The REAL White Rock continued to sit serenely by the shore in its usual state of Buddha-like bliss.

The second smaller rock beside the BIG White Rock wore its plaque proudly, explaining both the truth and legend surrounding the chunk of mountain that long ago apparently crashed onto the sandy shore east of the Pier.

The local historical church east along Marine Drive was where some might have gathered to perhaps say a prayer or send out good thoughts to the athletes who are under tremendous pressure to succeed. The hope and prayers for snow had surely long since passed.

Across the street a single unaffected seagull was straddling a railing of the pedestrian bridge that links White Rock to the Semiahmoo Indian Reserve.

A canoe whisked softly along the little Campbell River beneath the bridge, paddled by a couple of nature lovers who added a bright splash of colour to the weather-beaten foliage.

Picking up my buoyant umbrella, I planned my return to Marine Drive early Tuesday morning when the torchbearer was scheduled to come through.

When I arrived people had just begun to gather. I found the Museum beautifully lit. The leafless trees sparkled with Christmas lights. The clear sky was decorated with a perfect crescent moon. In the distance, the arc of lights over the Pier twinkled. The crowd started to build. We were strangers who quickly became friends huddled together in the morning chill with a common goal. Flashes blazing, many of us worried about our cameras not being able to capture events in the darkness. The cheering flag-waving crowd grew bigger and bolder as we giggled in amazement at the surprising turnout. It made us proud. Believers and non-believers were swept up in the magical moments while waiting for the Olympic flame to flutter down the road.


  1. Yes, I was feeling the spirit on Saturday too. With the sunny weather, people from many nations walking along Granville Street, four new store fronts going into place, other stores and offices being revitalized, I really started to feel and "Believe" the 2010 Olympics are happening. Great post! I love that you were there for the torch runners this morning. Early tomorrow morning, all the students and staff from my school will be lined up to watch it come through North Vancouver. I enjoyed all of the pictures, but especially love the umbrella in the first shot.

  2. Beautiful photo essay of White Rock, Penelope. Wish I could have been there. We were away last month when the torch came through our little town in southeastern Alberta, too.
    I remember talking to you about the cards and the Olympics in 2006, and can't help but wonder about that word "believe"!!
    My heart will be home in BC, and with all the athletes, as the Olympics begin. Let's hope for snow on the local mountains but not in the city, where traffic has been known to come to a standstill on snowy days until all the commuters (and I was one of them) re-learn how to drive in the white stuff.

  3. PS
    I love the picture of the Little Campbell River. It was my father's favorite stream, and you know how he loved rivers.
    I think I see a flash of white in the background of the photo of the rock, and I suppose (or imagine?) it to be the Peace Arch, there beyond the tidal flats of Semiahmoo Bay.
    Homesick? Who? Me? Sigh.

  4. Your dad and his love and writings about rivers certainly did cross my mind when I was there.:))


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