Hundreds meet, greet city's Olympic and Paralympic champs
Hundreds of people crowded into Churchill Square over the noon hour Tuesday to honour Edmonton's Olympic and Paralympic athletes and to meet them in person.
About 15 athletes, coaches, and trainers took to the stage while hundreds of people wearing red shirts, red scarves, red mittens, and carrying flags cheered them on. The celebration included people on stilts, wearing red, handing out thunder sticks and small Canadian flags.
Edmontonians Frances and Lee Sitek were among those in the crowd. They had been in Vancouver for the games and watched 12 Olympic events.
"I'm just reliving the moments," said Frances Sitek. "It was a great time, we had a wonderful, spiritual and a patriotic outpouring at the games."
Edmonton’s Olympic athletes included gold-medal curlers Kevin Martin and Marc Kennedy, gold-medal hockey player Shannon Szabados and paralympians Kirk Schornstein and Vivian Forest, who won five medals in para-alpine skiing.
The city also honoured Bob Steadward for his dedication and involvement in the paralympic movement.
Martin said he will never forget the feeling when he walked into the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony of the games.
"You walk up the ramp, going out to the opening, and you get hit by an absolute — it's like a plane taking off from the runway. It's nothing you ever heard when 70,000 people explode, screaming, when Team Canada walks out of that ramp."
Kennedy said he shows off his Olympic medal whenever he can, to spread the joy and share the accomplishment.
"This is Canada's medal," Kennedy said. "If it wasn't for Canadians we wouldn't be where we're at. So its important that people get a chance to see it, feel a part of it, and know they were a big reason Canadian athletes did so well."