Different Inukshuk Symbols to Welcome the World
It is just a matter of time before those popular iconic Olympic torchbearer red mittens are removed from the Inukshuk statue by English Bay near a popular walking and cycling path. Soon we will not see that quirky adornment in a few weeks, of which by now Hudson’s Bay Co. will have sold up to three million pairs. Who would have thought that there was another impromptu cousin to the official 2010 Olympic emblem, Ilanaaq. Which version represents the spontaneous spirit of Ilanaaq, Inuktituk word meaning “friend”?
Flag Colour Craze
Or will anyone miss that gently mocking Australian team flag with its punchy kangaroo draped outside their Olympic Village suites. Luckily for the team that had their suites facing prime flag viewing areas from the False
Creek area and several road bridges. Not surprisingly, a couple of other country flags crept onto other suite balconies during the Olympics.
While the Canadian flags, red and white colour palette splashed across the clothing of many people in the city, it was also a time for brandishing whatever country flag colours you supported or whichever mascot you adopted for luck. Often it appeared the Olympics was just a wonderful excuse to wear one’s country colours in fashionable or wacky, bold ways for several days without any apology or explanation.
This unscripted enthusiasm was as contagious as some of the flash mob dancing that occurred at the public gathering spots downtown. I heard several people yelling into their cell phones: “You have to come downtown where everyone is, where the action is”.
Happy Crowd Crazy
The crowds that milled around happily downtown in both good and rainy weather day after day, surprised most locals. VANOC officials were caught off-guard by thousands of people wanting to view and snap photos of the outdoor Olympic cauldron by the waterfront.
Travis Lupick in The Georgia Straight newspaper marvelled over impromptu hockey games struck among strangers, in public spaces created by roadblocks. Or a downtown spontaneous wooden sled race down the asphalt road while police look on in amusement. Even with the collapse of the wire barricade at the LiveCity Yaletown during a concert start after 20 people were hurt, didn’t deteriorate into a riot of 8,000 people: “But a few people’s anger was quickly overwhelmed by a spontaneous singing of the national anthem”. Amazing.
For just transit fare, one could hang out downtown to soak in the Olympic spirit with free public art, the free skating rink,
street buskers, Royal Canadian Mint displays and the pavilions, if you had several hours to wait at certain venues. At one shopping mall, many people were happy to sit there to watch an Olympic hockey game on the flat screen tvs provided temporarily. If you worked in any eatery, it was probably helpful the establishment had a tv for patron contentment over coffee or a beer.
The unexpected festive marathon celebration and cooperation of large crowds on the streets, at
Olympic public venues and on the transit system has generated discussion among downtown business owners, planners, politicians and local commentators on civic and urban matters: How could Vancouver sustain after the Olympics, a slice of this shared energy, convivial
public gatherings, use of public space and increased use of public transportation? Will Vancouver have more tourists over the next few years after viewing the party on tv or online? There will be micro experiments –maybe rethinking of car-free days in certain areas, mass public festivals and reconfiguration of public space areas, tiny areas. Tiny steps.
For now, we will just carry on into the spring, post Olympics with the cherry blossoms that have burst early now. May the blossoms not drop off too soon.
“Flash Mob in the City- Part 2.” In Inside Vancouver Blog. Feb. 26, 2010.
Lupick, Travis. “Olympics Bring on the Party”. In The Georgia Straight. Feb. 25, 2010.