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Paralympics the cure for Whistler’s Olympic blues

Quiet streets replace the vibrant Village Stroll of last week



The cauldron's Olympic flame has been snuffed out and the rings have been replaced by the three agitos.

The Village Stroll is quiet.

Gone are the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, gone the free concerts, gone the impromptu singing and cheering, gone the sightings of Olympic heroes.

In the blink of an eye Whistler's Olympic moment had disappeared.

"I'm deflated now that it's gone," said Justine Ewart, walking through the village with her son last week.

"I loved the scene - just the people, the buzz, the craziness and the work was fantastic."

But the Paralympics are almost here, a sure cure for Whistler's post-Olympic blues.

"We're really proud and eager to welcome the world to the Paralympic Winter Games starting March 12 th ," said Mayor Ken Melamed.

"It is going to be an incredible event."

And while it won't draw the same crowds, the same musical concerts and the same Olympic buzz, it will likely help Whistler reclaim the excitement.

"I sure hope so," said Natalia Kawatski, at The Oracle of Whistler. "Personally I'm quite excited for the Paralympics. I would really like to get out and see some of those competitions first-hand."

Kawatski had a front seat from The Oracle to all the nightly medals presentations and concerts at Whistler Medals Plaza.

It was a much different feel in her neck of the village last week.

"There's definitely been an air of calm and you can hear the sounds of spring as opposed to the hooting and hollering that prevailed," she said.

"It was wonderful - the excitement, the energy was marvelous but it's also kind of nice to be able to breeze with ease down the Village Stroll and get to where I'm going without much hindrance."

It's been a drastic change to calm she said but there are still people in town.

It was that excitement, captured on TV, that was enough to convince the Dalton family, who live in Montreal, to jump on a plane and see what the Olympics were all about.

After their tickets for Florida were cancelled the lure of the Olympic city pulled them across the country.

The family of four arrived in Vancouver Tuesday and came to Whistler for the day on Wednesday.

"We were glued to the TV for the whole Olympics and just couldn't get over the crowds," said Katherine Dalton.

"We came just to see what Vancouver was like after the Olympics and since we weren't here for the Olympics maybe see if there was still some Olympic spirit left to have a peak and look around."

They have found some. It's not the same spirit that infused the town for those fateful Olympic days but there's some spirit here nonetheless.

And now, Whistler is on the eve of the next big event.

The municipality installed the three" agitos" (it's Latin for "I move") emblem at the site of the Olympic rings.  The agitos cost $35,000 and will be in place throughout the Paralympics.

The cauldron has also been re-ignited and burn for the duration of the Paralympic Games.




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