Superb! Held at the Rogers Centre ~ called the Pan American Dome ~ for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. I wept with a tissue or two...emotionally with pride, watching the participating athletes as they en-massed the Dome in uniform representing their countries and waving their nation's flag...
6100 of them from 41 countries (North America, South America and the Caribbean)...vying for medals in their individual sports. Peter Mansbridge and Scott Russell, broadcasters with CBC, professionally walked us through the proceedings. I share some of my highlights from the 3-hour TV coverage.
The ceremony kicked off with a gravity-daring stunt from Olympic gold medallist Donovan Bailey in a pre-taped bit that depicted members of Canada's Olympic gold medal-winning 1996 4x100 relay team trotting the Pan American flame around Toronto and eventually to the top of the CN Tower. Bailey was the last to receive the flame and promptly base-jumped off the 533-metre-high structure in free-fall, then parachuting onto the roof of the Dome. The star sprinter then appeared live in the stadium, descending from the ceiling. WOW!
The crowd of over 45,000 rose to its feet as Team Canada...717 of them...led by flag-bearer and veteran paddler, Mark Oldershaw of Burlington, marched into the stadium...whistling and cheering in a standing ovation that lasted until the athletes themselves took their seats.
Margarita Caropresi, 53, who came to Canada from Mexico 17 years ago, said, “The thrill of seeing my native country and my adopted one is almost too much for me to bear. I haven't been able to sleep for a week.” She brought a small Mexican flag, beaded necklaces in the country's colours and a pendant that includes both the Canadian and Mexican flags. “That's a big thing in Latin America. Here it's just like another game but for us it's the PAN AM ~ so we celebrate this as a serious thing...like the Olympics.”
Roberto de Olivera, 39, came from Brazil to volunteer for the Games and said the chance to support his national team was a 'dream come true'. “Maybe I'll cry too,” he said. “Because it's emotional to see your country from the outside. When you live there, you don't feel the same, but when you go outside your country, you feel proud because they represent you outside.”
Hometown pride was also in full force...
with the crowd a sea of red and white.
The one-hour stage presentation depicted children, who molding their young lives, became youth of teenage with a dream; they challenge themselves with courage and determination to become the dream's reality...however, they face failure, injuries, disappointments and often depression with these setbacks...then trying recover, it becomes difficult to 'climb the ladder' to the top of their potential abilities to performance levels...physically, psychologically and artistically. Creatively designed by Cirque du Soleil, performed by them and with Toronto ballet dancers, it was superbly set to music and represented just what it took to become competing athletes of the caliber seen here at the Games.
After speeches and 'oaths' were taken by athletes and judges,
the Pan American flame was transferred to the cauldron.
Pine Cone Cauldron Forged in Hamilton
Janie Ginsberg (Hamilton Spectator) writes: The Pan Am cauldron is a 34-tonne multi-coloured pine cone ~ and a Hamilton legacy. Lit at the opening ceremonies on Friday night, the cauldron can be found burning at the Pan Am Dome at 1Blue Jays Way in Toronto.
Designed by Cirque du Soleil's creative team and manufactured by Arcelor Mittal Dofasco in Hamilton, it represents the work of more than 5,400 employees. “We've had tremendous support from people being involved in the manufacturing of the steel that went into the cauldron,” said the steelmaker's CEO, Sean Donnelly.
Ten types of steel went into the creation of the giant pine cone,
with each scale laser cut with an image of a Pan Am sport.
The project was 18 months in the making.
The inspiration for the pine cone design was actually sketched on a napkin, Cirque du Soleil creative director Jean Guibert said at a news conference on Thursday. “There is a great human story around the cauldron,” he said.
Donnelly said the cauldron is more than a work of art; it acts as a metaphor for Arcelor's performance.
He stated, “The Games themselves are about presenting athletes that strive to continue improving their performance...and we are building the competitive fire within our organization to drive results that we need to be a world-class performer in our industry.”
Although the official cauldron will stay in Toronto after the Games,
a replica...'the people's cauldron'...which is a third of the size
will remain on Hamilton soil.
Back in January, Arcelor and TO2015 hosted an event that brought 300 people from 30 communities together in Hamilton to take part in the replica's creation. Each group was told to create art, representative of their community using pine cones. The designs were then used to inspire the creation of the scales of the cone on cauldron, which were finally created by artists from Toronto-based non-profit 'Steps Initiative' program.
“For us,it's about the legacy of the cauldron itself,” said Donnelly.
“Arcelor employees take extensive pride in seeing the fruits of their work
in two beautiful cauldrons.”
“Our aspirations are our possibilities” (Robert Browning)
“Dreams are like the paints of a great artist.
Your dreams are your paints...the world is your canvas.
Believing...is the brush that converts your dreams into a masterpiece of reality.”
Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 11, 2015
To comment...email to: