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Memories from 2010: Vancouver marks the opening day of the games
VANCOUVER -- On Feb. 12, 2010, Melissa DeBono got to realize a dream in front of an enthusiastic crowd of tens of thousands at BC Place in Vancouver.
“I just remember the energy,” she told CTV News Vancouver. “It was so exciting to kind of be a part of something that large.”
DeBono was one of hundreds of dancers who took part in the opening ceremony for the 2010 Olympic winter games. Even though 10 years have now passed, she vividly remembers the choreographer cheering them on and offering encouraging words.
“I was part of the Indigenous Youth Gathering,” she said, adding that there were about 300 volunteers from all across the country. “First Nations, Inuit, Metis, it was actually pretty exciting.”
DeBono said there had been a call for volunteers for the Olympics, and organizers wanted to know if the applicants danced, sang, or had regalia. She submitted an application, and remembers jumping up and down on her bed when she was short-listed. Then, she got a second call telling her she was a finalist, but exactly what the volunteers would be doing remained a mystery at first.
“I only knew I had to pack my regalia … and then I also had to pack at least about two-and-a-half weeks' worth of clothes,” DeBono said.
She said people were flown into Vancouver and then bussed to Squamish, where they were finally informed they would be dancing in the opening ceremony.
“We were just sitting there, just having snacks and then all of a sudden they tell us this … the room got so loud in excitement,” she recalled, and added the volunteers were all cautioned that they couldn’t tell anybody. She said the group was transported to BC Place for secret rehearsals.
The experience is also memorable for DeBono for another reason. She met another dancer, who became her husband in 2017. She's from Canim Lake, east of 100 Mile House in B.C.'s Central Interior. Her husband is from North Vancouver.
“We probably would not have met if not for that,” she said. “It wasn’t love at first sight, but we became best friends like instantly.”
DeBono said she knows of a few other couples that formed, including one person who ended up moving to B.C. to be with their partner.
“I’ll always remember that night. Just the energy, the people I’ve met,” DeBono said. “Dancing has always been a part of my life, whether I’m dancing for my culture, I was also kind of a hip hop dancer. Just to me, it was just one of my dreams come true, to perform for the world.”
The memory is an emotional one for her, too.
“It’s a really proud moment because I kind of was there for my grandmother … and also our ancestors,” she said. “I will always cherish those moments.”
People also gathered to remember the start of the games at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver on Wednesday morning, when the Olympic cauldron was relit for a few hours. There were a number of people wearing the bright blue jackets of 2010 volunteers in the crowd, along with people sporting pins, and others holding the Olympic torches they carried during the relay.
Ten years ago, Wayne Gretzky carried a torch from the opening ceremony at BC Place through downtown to light the cauldron in the plaza. Since 2010, it's been relit to mark special occasions in Vancouver.
The natural gas-fuelled cauldron costs about $1,500 per hour to operate.
The city has planned several events to mark the occasion, including a celebration with former volunteers, a pin exchange and opportunities to try out Olympic sports.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alyse Kotyk