Vancouver celebrates hogmanay style

Posted on March 3, 2010

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As Hockey fans flood Robson Street, Vancouver, celebrations extend to the balcony above CTV as the Canadian Mens Ice Hockey team receive their gold medals

Two weeks ago I had never been to an Olympic games and was fresh off the plane in a changed city.  Looking back, I was incredibly naïve to the huge impact winter games can have in a small city like Vancouver.  I had missed all the build up, the apprehension and even the opening ceremony.

My opening ceremony experience was a little different to most here. I listened to the BBC coverage on a TV perched in a corner of my childhood room at my parent’s house in Wales, surrounded by all my worldly belongings, separating out what I would bring to Canada and what I was leaving behind.  (Yes parents are wonderful for free storage space).

I was so excited about getting the opportunity to see one or two events that I didn’t even think about how downtown was going evolve into a hub of activity and patriotism. And in truth the full transformation was not complete until the mass celebrations of the final few medals.

The men’s Ice Hockey finals, and even semi-finals, drew people from all over Vancouver into downtown for an impromptu red and white street party, filled with hugging and high fiving strangers.

VANOC couldn’t have planned a better outcome to their games with old rivals USA and Canada taking to the ice hours before their games closed and the hosts prevailing in overtime.  It made me think of what would happen in Britain if Scotland and England ever both managed to make it to the finals in a football cup.

In fact much of the day made me wonder how things would have transpired back home.  For example, during the celebrations, people in USA flags danced and sang with the Canadian’s with little fear of violence, people from all races and backgrounds celebrated with their adopted nation and the happiness overwhelmed all who were present with even the police receiving many a high five.   And this is what I love about Canada, unfortunately I doubt that it would not have been the case in the UK, we only have to look back to many football riots in recent years.

That being said, we Brits can become very patriotic and certainly understand celebration, under the right circumstances, and I am hoping this is something we can learn from and translate into London 2012.

As a little girl growing up in Scotland this type of mass celebration is savoured for very few events, one, being Scotland winning the world cup (never going to happen sorry to any Scots who believe it may) and two, Hogmanay (New Years Eve to the rest of the world).

This is the one night of the year when we as Scots celebrate our heritage, the future and dance the night away with random strangers during a mass street party.  The similarities between this and Sunday’s win that brought Vancouver (and much of Canada) to a standstill made me smile, not because of the sporting outcome, but because it made me feel at home.  So my feeling is that anyone who is feeling the post Olympic blues right now should start looking into Hogmanay in Edinburgh.  125,000 crushing into several streets, cars being expelled and mass comradery to strangers is a yearly occasion for us, but with less high fiving and more singing.

Downtown Vancouver goes crazy following a win for the men's ice hockey team in the 2010 Olympic semi finals against Slovakia

Downtown Vancouver goes crazy following a win for the men's ice hockey team in the 2010 Olympic semi finals against Slovakia

A Canadian fan celebrates downtown following a win for the men's ice hockey team in the 2010 Olympic semi finals against Slovakia

Downtown Vancouver goes crazy following a win for the men’s ice hockey team in the 2010 Olympic semi finals against Slovakia

Downtown Vancouver becomes an explosion of red following a win for the men's ice hockey team in the 2010 Olympic finals against USA

Strangers are photographed together during the celebrations on Granville Street two hours after the hockey win.

Canadians and Americans celebrate together

Fans record the street party on Granville StreetThe party reflected in Ashley MacDonald's sun glasses on Granville Street

A group of fans begin a mass beach ball game on Granville

  • The partying effects reach the police vehicles too
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