On Scene

Talk of the town
February 15, 2010
Written by Paul Dixon

Monday, Feb. 15 - update

See in the Monday morning paper that one of the vehicles in Mr. Biden’s motorcade was involved in an accident serious enough to send a couple of passengers off to hospital.  I don’t have any details on the incident but it speaks to that old adage – “stuff happens”.  Motorcade driving, especially in a motorcade the size I saw downtown on Sunday, is very much an art. Done properly, it’s more like watching a train in which all the component parts move as one rather than a bunch of vehicles trying to keep up; but, like a train, when it goes off the track it can get really ugly, really fast.


It’s been great to see the happy crowds on the streets of Vancouver. Talked with friends who were at an event over the weekend to get their impressions. First, there is no parking anywhere near any of the event venues in the Vancouver region. Your event ticket is also your public transit pass for the day. Getting there by bus was no problem but they took the wrong road from the bus stop and once they realized their mistake were even further misdirected by a VANOC volunteer. When they finally arrived at the right gate it took about half an hour to get through the security screening which was very thorough, down to removing all rings and examining wallets. How did they feel about it? No big deal.  Everybody had to go through the same drill and everybody was having a good time. For them it was all part of the Olympic experience.


When I look at the crowds on the streets I go back to Canada Day 2001 in Ottawa when we were visiting friends. One of our reasons for going to Ottawa was to spend Canada Day on Parliament Hill. What could be more Canadian? It certainly had the potential to be a great day but the weather didn’t co-operate. Sound familiar? Cold and rainy, it didn’t deter us or the tens of thousands of others who showed up for a day of national pride. It was interesting to watch the crowd dynamic change over the course of the day as the family groups that had initially made up the bulk of the crowd were superseded by a younger and more boisterous element, fuelled by more than just their patriotic spirit. Long before we wanted to leave, my host and I realized it was time to leave as the crowd around us was “on the verge”, as in too much of a good thing. We formed our families into a little convoy and made good our escape with not a moment to spare.


Many of the European media have been commenting that Canadian attention appears solely focused on men’s hockey, to the exclusion of everything else. The hockey gold medal game is the last event of these Olympics, scheduled for the afternoon before the closing ceremonies. Not to put any pressure on “the boys”, but I sure hope “we” win, if only to keep everyone happy. 

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