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Monday, September 26, 2022
Ross’s Ramblings: Canada Summer Games coast to a noisy ending with fireworks in gorge
The Canada Games came to a close on Sunday.
The Canada Games came to a close on Sunday. Steve Parr

My pal Dave Boyes and I attended the closing ceremony of the Canada Summer Games in Niagara Falls.

It was a nostalgic trip for both of us, as we had both been part of Olympic closing ceremonies, way back when.

In Atlanta in 1996, proudly wearing an Olympic silver medal around his neck, Dave was an ear-to-ear grinning part of the Canadian Olympic team as they waved to the world and partied on the stadium infield. They were celebrating a wonderful athletic experience.

As for me, way back in 1972 in Munich, only days after the tragic murders of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, I borrowed the All Black track suit of an inebriated New Zealand field hockey player, and ambled into the Olympic Stadium with the Kiwi team. Heightened security? Gemutlichkeit!

Closing ceremonies are special. Much less formal than opening ceremonies, which tend to be a bit overly structured, beginning with the almost militaristic parade of nations.

Most Niagarans stayed on their couches, but Dave and I rode our bikes up to Queen Victoria Park for the event. Congratulations to the event planner of the closing ceremony.

All day, the weather had been threatening, but as the worn cliche goes, “The weather was perfect.” The parade of athletes was flawless and inspiring, with so many fresh-faced Canadians here from coast-to-coast-to-coast for a final event that was brilliantly staged in front of the magnificent American Falls.

Most residents never got into the spirit of the Canada Summer Games and there was no real buzz about the events. Even some of my internet-savvy friends became frustrated, unable to navigate the Games website to learn about schedules, results or tickets.

For some reason, other than The Lake Report, media coverage was minimal, with national papers and television networks ignoring the action.

The teams walked in some sort of order, waving to the crowd who cheered them thank you and goodbye. A massive stage had been set up with all the attendant audio and visual equipment needed for such a large-scale production. An enthusiastic announcer kept the crowd apprised of who was arriving and the teams took their places for the ceremony.

There were provincial and territorial flags flying, but a noticeable paucity of red and white maple leaf Canadian flags. Even the nearby Skylon Tower was not lit up and we couldn’t see if the Canadian and American Falls had been illuminated with our national colours.

The invited speakers thankfully respected the three Bs of public speaking. “Be Brief. Be Sincere. Be seated.” MP Adam Van Koeverden, a former Olympian, was the highlight, revving up the teams to a fever pitch as they cheered loudly for the Canada Games and themselves.

It was an emotional few minutes as this Canadian athletic icon enthusiastically got everyone into the spirit.

Security, security, security. What a world we have become. Even in peaceful Canada, in laid-back Niagara, there were several Niagara Parks Commission dump trucks parked perpendicularly across River Road.

Not to pick up garbage later, but to stop any possible terrorists from driving into the crowd. Sad, but necessary in these times.

The closing ceremony started right on time and ended right on time. Good entertainment, good videos, good audio. An organizational triumph, eh?

My conclusion?

The Canada Games were a success in many ways, with the willing help of many volunteers ensuring a top-flight athletic experience for the various teams. Very well-organized despite the ongoing deadly pandemic delays, and lots of legacy projects that will benefit Niagara in the future.

Why was there no real effort to get the public involved? The volunteers and the teams were so enthusiastic and classy. Such great sportsmanship, such exciting events.

But it’s hard to get excited when you are almost alone watching.

Let’s learn a lesson here and pack the stands for the next big event that Niagara hosts.