Partying Vancouver really in the Games groove

Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:48am EST
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - For a city widely described as ambivalent before the Winter Games started, Vancouver was doing a pretty good imitation of a city which had fallen completely and utterly in love with the Olympics in the first week and planned to celebrate the fact in style.

By Saturday night, it resembled nothing more than one, huge -- largely good tempered -- party with everybody welcome as long as they had a smile on their face.

It is fair to say such whole-hearted enthusiasm has taken even the most optimistic of Games organizers by surprise given Canadians' reputation for modest reserve.

Germany's official pavilion has had to fly in extra beer from home because it drastically underestimated how many people would show up for a drink -- not your average problem at a German bier keller.

Police say at least 150,000 people crowded into the downtown area on Friday evening. The last stragglers had just left when the early arrivals for Saturday's day-long celebrations began turning up at dawn.

Sunday's crowd was expected to be even bigger when Canada play arch-rival the United States in men's ice hockey in the afternoon. Police are bringing in extra forces to deal with potential rowdiness.

The unseasonable Spring-like weather -- the sun has shone brightly in crystal clear skies for the past three days -- has not exactly dampened spirits either.

"We're being tourists in our own city for a day," said Vicky Steele, who was soaking up the scene and sun with her husband as the crowd swirled around them.   Continued...