Saturday, August 4, 2012

Let the contest begin!

The weather was not so great yesterday compared to what it usually is down here and so Nick was the only one who flew. He did have a god flight though, better then he was originally expecting that's for sure! And fortunately he wasn't back too late in the evening because last night was the Pre-Competition Party at the local fairgrounds. They managed to get all 500+ of us in a massive building there for a true night of Texas fun. There was bandanas and straw hats at the door, texas flags on the tables, brisket and refried beans for dinner and a live country band. It was a lot of fun! Apparently you learn how to dance before you can walk here; the locals pulled a whole bunch of us out on the dance floor to stop the night away to some "easy" dances (the chicken dance at the end was a little bit more my speed, I've got two serious left feet). Needless to say it was an adventure of an evening, even though it did end fairly early because we all had to be up bright and early this morning for the parade and opening ceremonies.

Now I had been told that Uvalde likes parades, but I don't think any of us were prepared for the magnitude of it. Every team is sponsored by a business in town (we are sponsored by the electrical company AEP Texas) and so it was up to each business to make a float for their team. And here I was thinking a parade meant everyone walking around a block holding flags... There was everything from an old firetruck to a tractor pulling a trailer that had been decked out with tables and chairs in the parade. Team Canada has a nice big red pickup truck that we all pilled in the back of and decked out with Canadian flags.
Team Canada! (Christine and Annemarie were inside the truck in the AC)
The parade started in the centre of town at the First State Bank because they had a huge parking lot that we could all get ourselves organized in. From there the floats followed by the marching band made its way all the way down the main street to the stadium at the other end of town in alphabetical order by team (it was a good couple miles!). The streets in the heat of town were actually lined with people, all friendly and waving and welcoming us into their town. People had chair out on their front lawns, families were out in full force and even peoples dogs and cats came out to watch the show. We had a blast! I have to say it was pretty awesome to be sitting there with the flags representing Canada-it was a bit of a surreal moment. Once we got to the stadium they got us all lined up in alphabetical order by team again so we could walk in and around the track as a group. The crews went halfway around the track and then peeled off to the side to go up to the bleachers and watch so it was just the pilots and the team captains that stood in the official places around the stage. 

The teams all formed a semi-circle around the stage that had all of the contest officials.

Right as we sat down and the ceremony was about to being the rumbling of an airplane engine started getting closer and we got buzzed right overhead by Conrad in the Huffstutler's P-51 mustang. It is a beautiful plane! I wonder what I need to get a ride... Unfortunately I don't have a good picture of it because it came too fast for me to get my camera out an on. That was definitely a way to start the contest off with a bang. The ceremony itself was MC'd by Mark Huffstutler who did a wonderful job, and we heard speeches from the town major, head judge, contest director, SSA representative and the president of the IGC (international gliding council) who was the one to officially pronounce the contest open. They were all just so happy to have everyone hear, it was very nice to heard all the wonderful things they had to say about the contest and the gliding community! After that everyone was all around taking group pictures and such (hey all the pilots were dressed nicely and clean...a rare occasion) and then we had the rest of the afternoon off to relax. I think everyone is maximizing that relax part because after today there definitely won't be much time for that! And that's pretty much all I've got to report from the past two days, starting tomorrow though things are going to kick into over gear so I will definitely have some stories and photos to share of the first official contest day. It has finally begun!

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