(click on photos to enlarge)
Toronto was a hive of activity for the last two weeks of July as it hosted the PanAm Games. The US won the most medals at 265 with Canada a close second at 217. Not surprising as these are the two richest countries participating with likely more funding for training than South American countries.
The only event I managed to get to was beach volleyball which was a lot of fun to watch. A special sand stadium seating 5,000 spectators had been built on what was once a parking lot. Quite a feat as 3,000 metric tons of sand were used. And not just any old beach sand, it has to have specific size, shape, lack of ability to compact and so on, meeting the requirements of the International Volleyball Federation in Switzerland. So, in this case, it was granite sand from Huntsville, Ontario which was washed, sized and specially prepared for a volleyball court. Who would have thought? Too bad the stadium is only temporary after all that work. I had only ever seen beach volleyball on the beach where bikini-clad women are the norm. Apparently, the sport demanded that women wear bikinis until 2012 when T-shirts were finally permitted. All the women at the PanAm games were still wearing bikinis while the men wore shorts and T-shirts. I couldn’t help thinking that it must hurt more to fall on bare skin never mind being exposed to the blazing sun. Anyhow, the spectators were in good spirits cheering wildly and generally enjoying themselves. Some had dressed up for the occasion.
As luck would have it, the sailing events took place on the lake so we were able to watch them through our window. The Textile Museum had an exhibit featuring artwork from all 41 PanAm countries transposed onto sails. Each evening, 11 boats sailed across the lake in a flotilla. It was beautiful to watch though it would have been nice to see the work up close as well.
Every evening during the games, there were free concerts at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto’s City Hall. For me the highlight was Lila Downs, a Mexican singer with a wonderful voice who featured on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Frida’ about the life of the artist Frida Kahlo. She was lively and most entertaining and we would have paid to see her.
There were lots of fireworks every night and of course the final one at the closing ceremony which was held at the Dome stadium next to the CN tower.
Short but spectacular, the fireworks were placed such that they looked as if they were bursting out of the tower. A fitting end to the games!