Posted by: mckenzie68 | August 27, 2011

Day 9 – WPFG Adventure – Opening Ceremonies in Brooklyn

I had a very bad sleep netting maybe an hour at the most, perhaps it was the anticipating the official opening of the 2011 WPFG.  So I ended up sitting in bed watching TV, specifically the news about Hurricane Irene which is now officially on course to hit NYC.  Eventually I showered and studied the maps for the route to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the site of the opening ceremonies.  I also had some time to kill, so in my plan I included a stop at Ground Zero and the Brooklyn Bridge!

It did not take me long to get ready (no packing) and headed out for a quick breakfast, not easy with a city of 8 million doing the same thing!  I settled for a quick egg sandwich and a coffee, which I ate on the way to the subway, as I looked around I realized that I was fitting right in…so many New Yorkers were doing exactly the same thing, eating on the run!   I ended up buying a 7 day pass for the subway, as I planned on seeing as much as I can, exploration and adventure seem to be my thing.

I took the “A” line subway to Ground Zero, and was impressed to see the new WTC Tower up to about 80 floors or so.  I could not see the memorial pools in the footprint of the destroyed WTC buildings, the construction fence had an opaque material  preventing any clear view.  I was definitely brought back to the events of 9/11, almost 10 years ago, and how this ground was the resting place for so many innocent souls.  I could feel raw emotion surging forward, so I decided to continue walking, and save those emotions and thoughts for a more private moment.

I took the long way to the Brooklyn Bridge, enjoying the very hot weather, thanks to a relatively clear sky.  A perfect day for a walk about!  I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge stopping to take pictures at various stages, in fact recalling a specific scene from “Cloverfield” when the monster smashes the Brooklyn Bridge.  I took pictures and was standing in the area that was depicted in that particular film, kind of cool really.  It was however a pretty long walk to get to the other side, and by then I needed a break!

I took the subway on the Brooklyn side to Prospect Park, following a long line of fellow athletes from the subway station to the staging area in the west end of the park.  I noticed members I knew from the Calgary Police Service and slowly walked into the group, eventually one of my old supervisors recognized me (I look quite a bit different now) and it was like old home week!  I got to catch up with so many people who I had not seen in quite some time, and  it felt AWESOME!  As I made my rounds, more and more athletes were staging in the areas marked for their countries, a non stop flow which was so interesting to watch.  Eventually I had to find some shade due to the heat, humidity and sun, and a nearby jumbotron fit the bill perfectly.  We waited for about 2 and a half hours before the ceremonies started and it was worth every minute in terms of camaraderie.

I was so amazed at just how many athletes mustered for the parade around the park, each country lead by their flag and a sign, very similar to the Olympics.  I felt huge pride in my country when Canada was announced and astounded to learn that we had over 4,000 athletes representing agencies from almost every province and territory!  I took some pictures as I passed over the stage and into the parade area (it is raised and offered a great view) and it was incredible to see what the worlds 16,000 police and fire fighter athletes look like from above…wow!

I walked the parade route,picked up some water along the way and eventually made it to the stage area.  The ceremony was typical of any large event like this, but definitely emotional considering the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  I was extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to walk with so many brother/sister  police officers…an emotional moment for sure.

I headed to the subway a little early to get out of the sun, and was so lucky to walk onto the platform just as the subway train I needed pulled up, talk about perfect timing!  I have never had a better appreciation for air conditioning than at the moment in time…aaaaaahhhh breezy coolness.  The train car I was in was entertained during the ride by athletes from Brazil and some fellows from Mexico, both competing with songs, very cool!  The long ride seemed like only minutes thanks to those athletes keeping it fun!

I made my way back to the hotel room and managed to contact some friends from Calgary who would be competing with me in the games, and we arranged to meet later at Athletes Village in the Jacob Javits Convention Center.  I walked around midtown Manhattan to kill some time and have a quick bite to eat, then slowly sauntered to the convention center.  There were so many people and athletes in the stage area, that it took me quite a while to find my friends, not to mention I look different ( a little scruffy) making it a little harder to pick me out!  LOL   It was so nice to see them, and we shared stories over some beverages, geez it was fun laughing about old times!

Three Australian Police Officers from New South Wales asked if they could sit at our table (with so many athletes seating was limited) and we shared stories from our countries, and journeys  to the games!  Alison, Natalie, and Clare were so interesting as they had made their way to the the United States west coast and the traveled across the country for a week or so to get here for the games.   Pretty cool!  Right next to us was a contingent of bobbies from the United Kingdom, all wearing their uniforms and distinctive caps…and they made quite the impression doing a conga line around the athletes village hall!  LOL

Eventually we decided to walk to Times Square and enjoy the lights/sounds of New York City at night.  I have not been to Times Square at night so it was a real treat seeing the throngs of people, enjoying the area, and especially the jumbotron that was broadcasting live footage of times square…you could take a picture of yourself taking the picture!  Yeah I waved at myself, I’m a nerd!  LOL

Raz was hungry so we stopped at “Bubba Gumps” for a meal, and lucked out in getting a 2nd floor window table!  We had a perfect view of Times Square while chatting and enjoying our food…what a night!  Despite the allure of New York’s night life we decided to return to our respective hotel rooms, all of us tired from a long day.

I could not have asked for a better first official day of the games!  Tomorrow (I guess it is today now LOL) I get to meet Mr Dark Clouds spouse Hurricane Irene, they just cannot leave me alone!  LOL

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