I’ve been contemplating for the past twenty-four hours how to articulate about, well, the past twenty-four hours.
I woke up yesterday morning, got on my Team USA gear and, well, I’ll be honest, sat in front of the television. It was July 27th, Opening Ceremony. The Today show was at the top of my list, watching Hunter Kemper named as captain to the USA Triathlon team, and watching the preparations for the evening’s festivities. It gave me the goosebumps, starting at 5am, and they didn’t go away all day.
After a busy half day of work, I made my way to the Olympic Path to meet up with Connor and Courtney for the beginning of the Opening Ceremony festivities Stateside. I was getting excited and nervous and so ready to be a part of what would undoubtedly be my most memorable Opening Ceremony ever. I’ve watched every Games, every Opening Ceremony, since I was a peanut. For two weeks every two years, I sit in front of my television, and I don’t move, afraid to miss a single moment supporting the stars and stripes. But this year, this time around, it was going to be different. I was part of the team behind the team.
As we got to the Olympic Path, fellow employees handed us Union Jacks and American flags, and we enthusiastically waved them around as the Olympic torch was lit and run past us. The cauldron was stuck signifying the opening of the Games, Stateside, and the goosebumps continued. To celebrate the Games, we threw a huge tailgate party at the OTC, and, as one friend put it, it looked like America threw-up everywhere over our party. I’m patriotic. I go all-out for Flag Day and for the Fourth, but Team USA on Opening Ceremony took it to a whole new level.
After our tailgate, we made our way downtown to celebrate with the community as well. Taking advantage of our fourth-floor office view, we were able to see the hundreds of people gathered on Tejon Street to celebrate with Team USA. Around 6, we made our way downstairs to grab front row seats for the televised ceremony. One of the most memorable moments was watching Kristi Yamaguchi honor the firefighters working to put out the recent Waldo Canyon fire. As the cauldron-lighter, they chose not to light the torch as a tribute to the firemen.
The Opening Ceremony, though, was by far my favorite part of the evening. Everything about it was perfect. I loved the artistic portion Danny Boyle composed, but I especially love the Parade of Nations. Every Games, I told Connor, I learn ten new countries. By the end of the night, we had decided that learning twenty-five new countries a Games was a more accurate estimate. The smiles on the athletes’ faces were inspiring and to watch the pride and culture of each country on display was such a sight to behold. But we went the wildest when Team USA walked in, led by fencer Mariel Zagunis. We smiled so wide, craning our necks to see if any of our friends could be spotted, marching with the 529-member delegation. It was by far the most exciting, and moving ceremony I’ve ever watched.
To be involved in Team USA and then watch Team USA go out to London and march at the Games, it was one of the proudest moments I’ve had since moving here. Those are our fellow residents, our friends, our Olympians, not just our compatriots. This was an Opening Ceremony I will never, ever forget.