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PJ and the Olympic Flame
Altariel E-mail Altariel
7th June 2000

PJ and the Olympic Flame - 596x400, 42kB

 PJ and the Olympic Flame - 596x400, 42kB

We arrived in Wellington's small Civic Square on a very grey and cold winter's afternoon.There were only about twenty or so people around and a suspiciously jazzy looking band was setting up to entertain us and keep us from scuttling away to our warm holes. After half an hour the band started playing and I suggested to my camera woman that she call loudly for a selection of Jimi Hendrix, a portly man walked passed and demanded first sausage from the barbeque. Now you'd think that this being the Olympic torch and all someone would have made an advertising effort, but no, there were few in the city who even knew it was going to happen let alone the details.
After an hour the handful of people grew to a crowd of around two hundred and as is customary for anything olympic related there were many school kids, red, green, yellow, blue being marched around by excitable olympic committee members who seemed to be the only ones enjoying the music.
We waited a while as the grey and black cloaked officials wandered in and up the stairs to the stage where the cauldron was to be lighted by ways of Garreth Farr climbing a human ladder - never mind that the thing was only about two feet off the ground.Photographers started arriving and we took our place at our chosen photo spot and discussed the various obstacles involved in taking pictures in poor light conditions with a camera that can't zoom.
Finally the jazz band stopped and a percussion band headed by torch bearer Garetth Farr began pounding out a distinctly pacific island beat. In the distance we could hear the Royal New Zealand Airforce band advancing towards the square.We watched and waited as the sound grew and small flags were thrust into our hands. Presently there came a lull in the drum beats and then the Airforce band exploded around the corner behind which could just be seen the olympic flame held aloft by a strange creature who appeared to be made up of fuzzy hair and glasses. I prodded my camera woman into action and clapped exitedly along with the rest of the crowd as PJ came into full view . I don't think I've ever seen such a look of pride on a man's face as was on PJ's when the crowd started cheering and waving at him. He grinned widely and waved back as the procession stopped right in front of us and PJ honoured us with a big smile and a wonderful photograph. While the officials ranted on about the importance of such occasions the music swelled and the band parted letting PJ walk proudly toward the bottom of the steps to pass on the flame. Once done our hero slipped off before anyone knew what had happened, he was gone and the spell had broken. Gareth made his way to the cauldren without the aid of the human ladder and set it alight to the cheers of a somewhat warmer Wellington crowd.
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