Where Vanoc (the Vancouver [Olympics] Organizing Committee) has done an utterly terrible job of engaging the people of Vancouver leading up to the Olympics, there is one thing that's made people feel included and excited: the torch relay.
Last night the torch went through the University of British Columbia (some hockey events will be held there, including the Canada-Switzerland women's game we're going to see Monday – oh, yeah!), and on its way to the Yaletown Live City for festivities at the end of the night, it travelled pretty close to my neighbourhood.
So I put on my rain boots and coat and went to see if my sleepy part of town would represent.
First stop: Urban Yarns, which is located on the torch route. It had been ages since I'd been there, but it's my proper local yarn store so it was great to see the place and to catch up with the owner, Anina. Little did I know they were throwing a wee party just for the occasion, and I showed up just in time for snacks and wine (and to buy some yarn for the as-yet-not-chosen project I'll cast on tonight for the Knitting Olympics).
Anina told me all of the business owners she's spoken to say business is way down, that people have been successfully scared into staying off the roads (not scared for their safety, but scared by warnings of brutal traffic). She's hoping folks will make it out to the store in the Point Grey neighbourhood, and I encourage all crafty visitors (and locals!) to do just that. Bonus: there are no parking restrictions in the area, and the 99 B-Line bus stops a block away.
Next stop: the streets. There was a brass band playing in front of the RBC bank at W. 10th Ave. and Sasamat, which was festive even in the rain. I think it was a firefighters band, and would love confirmation if anyone knows for sure.
Just as I began to relax into the realization that this sleepy community really was filling the streets, the most ridiculous pre-torch spectacle came through: neon-adorned Coke trucks with people dancing and shouting for excitement. Eye-rolls all around, and also some whooping.
And, about ten minutes later, the torch.
And just as soon as it came, it went.
And people crowded into the streets and followed it, and I felt so excited for my community and to be a part of it all.
And then it was over, as signaled by the streets opening up to traffic again and the #9 bus doing its part to get people back to the sidewalk.
I'm so glad I went, and my cynicism is certainly at bay today as I get really excited to watch the Opening Ceremonies on television tonight with friends.
So, crafters, what are you making during the Games? And non-crafters and crafters alike, what do you think of the Olympics as they ramp up?