By Inge Wilson
One year ago our Spirit of BC-Hope Region team members were busily making the final preparations for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Throughout 2009, most of our energies had been focussed on lantern building workshops and community presentations that centred attention on the Sunday, February 7th arrival of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Torch Relay in Hope.
Hundreds of hours had gone into helping school children and community members create paper lanterns to welcome and “light” the way for the torchbearers. Arrangements had been made for a community celebration before and after the relay visit. Security and media arrangements had been attended to. Volunteers had helped to clean up and cheer up the torch route. Businesses and the District of Hope had helped to ‘Paint the Town Red’ with Canadian flags and it was exciting to see the red maple leaf prominently featured on doors and windows – not to mention cars and faces – throughout town.
We had all witnessed the energy and excitement that the Olympic Torch inspired on its journey across Canada and when we finally went to bed on Saturday, February 6th we nervously anticipated how our moment in this historic event would play out the next morning.
Before daylight on February 7th our team was hard at work. The day looked to be perfect – dry and calm, brisk but not too cold. People started to arrive at the Legion Hall slowly at first but then soon built to a huge throng of excited children, parents and seniors. Hot drinks, food, live music, balloons and small flags all added to the mood and soon we were all gathered outside to follow the bagpiper and a small army of Canadian and international flag bearers, organized by Camp Hope. It was a colourful procession that led from Fort Street to Fourth Avenue and down Wallace Street.
To come around that last corner and see the hundreds of people assembled along Wallace Street and in Memorial Park, with their Canadian pride and paper lanterns glowing equally in the early morning light, was magical.
The large bear carving sporting its Team Canada jersey and carrying its hockey stick made for a perfect community party centrepiece.
And when the first of the official Olympic Torch Relay vehicles and torchbearers came into sight, the feeling of pure joy rippling through the crowd was unlike anything I had experienced before… or after.
Our group of Spirit of BC-Hope Region team members saw that day through and continued on to represent our area throughout the February Olympic Games and the subsequent Paralympic Games in March. We also organized and presented the Paralympic Torch Relay Celebration in Memorial Park on March 9th. That day too was unlike anything Hope had experienced before or since.
It seems like all of this was happening just yesterday, yet it also seems so very long ago already. It was in fact, one year ago this coming week.
You are invited to relive the excitement by celebrating at the Hope Library on Saturday, February 12th from 1 to 5 p.m.. Bring your stories and memorabilia to share with others. Bring your souvenir pin collections to display and possibly trade. Be sure to wear your Canadian red and white apparel!
For details contact Inge Wilson at The Hope Museum at 604-869-7322.
Inge Wilson is the co-chair of the Spirit of BC-Hope Region