It’s been a glorious summer here in London. And the Paralympics Closing Ceremony on Sunday night was a great way to end London’s successful Olympic and Paralympic Games. Prior to the night, my Audience Leader group had one rehearsal for the show. There were originally supposed to be about four rehearsal sessions but those got cut back as most of us had done the three prior London 2012 ceremonies and so we knew what to do. Also, as with the Olympics Opening Ceremony, this was very much going to be a party and things would be a lot more laid back.
Also, unlike prior ceremonies where we were with the audience, this time we would be on the main Stage/Field of Play with the athletes. Our role for much of the night would be to act as human shields to protect the athletes. The Ceremony titled: Festival of Flames would have lots of fire and massive trucks moving around the M25 (the track), so it was our job to protect the athletes since we knew the running order of the show.
But before the show kicked off, we also welcomed the athletes onto the Field of Play and fitted them out with these Xylobands/wristbands that would glow and flash in time with the music performed by ColdPlay thanks to a tiny receiver inside. It was all very exciting and good to finally be closer to the action. Sure I missed my audience in Section 244, but it was the final night for London 2012 and it was good to be around the people responsible for creating much of the excitement during the Paralympic Games.
That said, I tried desperately not to gawk too much and resisted the urge to take pictures of the athletes once the show started. Sure they were good sports about it all, but I knew the memory of actually being in the stadium would carry me through the decades.
It’s all been a rather surreal experience and so I’m thankful that I didn’t get tickets during the initial ballot for the ceremonies. Also that I submitted my application after seeing Mayor Boris Johnson on television talk about the volunteer opportunities available.
Anyway, back to the Paralympics Closing Ceremony. I was surprised that ColdPlay had such a long set during the ceremony. Sure we’d rehearsed with the band, but it was all very stop/start and so didn’t realise that they would be singing a total of about 16 songs. Particularly as some of the early ones were quite mellow and not the sort of music you’d expect to hear at a party. But things did get better as the night went on. And by the end of it all, actually liked the Paralympics Closing Ceremony better than the Olympics Closing Ceremony. For the Olympics Closing Ceremony there were just too many musical acts and the transitions were choppy! Here there was better continuity and the performances by Jay-Z and Rihanna were a welcome surprise!
So with the cauldron extinguished and the fireworks complete, we as Audience Leaders along with the Marshalls formed a wall to protect the stage and Mad Max trucks in the Middle of the Field of Play. As we stood there watching the athletes file out, I just soaked up the atmosphere reflecting on all the auditions, rehearsals, ceremonies, new friendships and of course my interactions with the audience.
It has been an incredible journey and the London 2012 Games were the greatest ever! So I’m beyond overjoyed that I had a role in making it all happen.
Above is a picture of me with some swimmers from the US Paralympics team. One of them won gold, but can’t remember her name! I know shame on me! Anyway, for more pictures from the closing ceremony, check out my Facebook album London 2012 Paralympics Rehearsals & Closing Ceremony.