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John Daley ReportingA ribbon cutting ceremony this morning celebrated the opening of the Olympic Cauldron Park. The park is on the south side of Rice-Eccles stadium -- the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of Salt Lake's Olympic Games.
This marks the official beginning for the park and the official end of an era for Salt Lake's Olympics. The organizing committee has closed its doors and a ceremony here today was the final official act of the 2002 Games.
Thanks for the memories. That's the sentiment today as Utah officially closed the book on the 2002 Games with the opening of the last Olympic facility.
Twelve million dollars can buy something nice and has here with an impressive home for the Hoberman Arch, the Olympic Cauldron, a step-stone fountain and the 2002 Visitors Center, which hosts photos and an interactive theater.
Dozens of former volunteers and SLOC workers were on hand to take a sometimes teary-eyed look back, among them a pair of old friends who served as chaplains at the Olympic village.
Bob Humitz, Former Chaplain/Olympic Village: “Wonderful, magnificent preservation of that legacy.”
Archie Noon, Former Chaplain/Olympic Village: “It was just wasted property before and here it is a beautiful tribute. It’s just super.”
Indeed, for first-time visitors there is no shortage of praise.
Ryan Hyland, Ogden Resident: “As kind of a young guy, what does it mean, all this Olympic stuff? It means to me that it happened here. It’s not a lie, it’s true.”
Liam Martin, Long Beach, CA Resident: “I think it’s really great and it feels like it reminds people about the Olympics last year.”
For others this site stands for a golden time.
Sayre Wiseman, Former SLOC Director of Ceremonies: “I have to say it was the best two years of my life. We had such a great time, great team.”
Libby Hyland, Former SLOC Director of Creative Services: “I get choked up about it. The Olympic ideal is the most beautiful thing of humanity.”
The park will undoubtedly rekindle fond memories. Like when 85-year-old Archie Noon fudged his age on a form--he said he was 80--so he could be a part of the Games.
Archie Noon, Former Chaplain/Olympic Village: “Yes, I am proud. This was the highlight of my life. I even had to lie about my age to get in there as a chaplain.”
Already the Games are beginning to seem like a warm but fading memory. But the new park is a place to relive the experience. No one knows when the cauldron will be lit again. But it is lit now and will stay lit until tomorrow night, so see it while you can.