Thousands join the party

It was like Canada Day, B.C. Day and New Year’s Eve all at once at the Richmond Oval Thursday night.

It was like Canada Day, B.C. Day and New Year’s Eve all at once at the Richmond Oval Thursday night.

Thousands of spectators waved Canadian and British Columbian flags, and in unison counted down the seconds to 6 p.m. — marking exactly one year until the 2010 Olympics — then let out a celebratory roar.

The hour-long event was a who’s-who of decorated Canadian Olympians — like Cindy Klassen and Simon Whitfield — and social and political bigwigs — like IOC president Jacques Rogge and Premier Gordon Campbell.

Two jumbo screens played videos of communities across Canada celebrating the countdown, reminding spectators it was a moment being shared across the country.

Christina and Matthew Anthony brought their children to the event so they could experience a moment in history.

“We’re excited the 2010 Olympics are coming to Vancouver and wanted to share it with our family,” said Matthew Anthony.

“When we were looking at scenes from across Canada and when the national anthem was playing, I felt myself getting really emotional.”

Christina said she’s proud the Games are going to leave a legacy for the city, province and country.

“To be on the world stage like that, I think only unbelievable possibilities can happen,” she said.

“The most emotional thing was watching my three-year-old (wave) the flags. I just can’t wait to watch her next year.”