Let the Games begin

What might it look like if a small town hosted the Olympic Games?

I saw a charming little program on TV last week, called Isles of Wonder. It was an intimate and low-key affair, full of spontaneous moments, looking at English history and culture. I hope a few others saw it.

Who am I kidding? A billion people watched Isles of Wonder, aka the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Director Danny Boyle was tasked with bringing together 10,000 performers—plus three cows, two goats, nine geese, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 70 sheep, and three sheepdogs—and turning out a dazzling, entertaining, and uplifting spectacle that had to include speeches, oaths, proclamations, a flag-raising, a torch-lighting, anthems, and 10,000 athletes representing 204 countries.

Now, Olympic opening ceremonies are definitely not intimate or low-key. As for spontaneous: well, royal weddings are more spur of the moment. I was hoping for some spontaneity from the animals, but they were disappointingly well-behaved. And I had to feel for the athletes, who seemed like an afterthought as they were kept waiting until the animals, Mary Poppins, a group of cricketers, and others had cleared off.

It set me wondering what a truly low-key, intimate, and spontaneous opening ceremony would look like. What if, by some twist, the Olympics ended up in Ashcroft?

“Welcome to the opening ceremony, everyone; and just a warning that we’re going to have to keep things moving, because CP can’t keep the trains stopped past 10:00. A big thanks to the team at Ash-Creek TV for the loan of the extension cords and extra speakers.

“After the ceremony there’s a potluck dinner at the Arena. We’ve tried to accommodate everyone with special dietary needs, but if you don’t have to worry about the calories then be sure to try Beth’s maple baked beans with bacon.

“A couple of notes about the venues. For the equestrian teams who have their horses stabled at the rodeo grounds, look out for marmot burrows. We tried to get them all, but some of those holes are well hidden. Due to low river levels, a few of the boating events have been switched to Barnes Lake, but the fishing derby is still going ahead next Saturday, so watch out for anglers.

“The Ukraine archery team is billeted with Jean and Kevin, who’ve had to go to Williams Lake unexpectedly. There’s a spare key under the planter on the front porch, and plenty of food in the fridge. If you want to watch TV, make sure you hold the power button on the remote down for a few seconds. And if anyone needs something they can’t get here, Martin says he’s going into Kamloops on Monday, so give him a list.

“Well, the high school band is ready to go, and the Desert Bells Handbell Choir has finished warming up, so let’s get on with the show. Could someone get those cows off the field first? Honestly, cows at an opening ceremony! Whose crazy idea was that?”

Barbara Roden