THE curtain was raised on the Isle of Man Commonwealth Youth Games 2011 in spectacular fashion at the Bowl Stadium on Thursday evening.
Speeches, music, dancing, acting, lighting and effects were the key ingredients of the flamboyant show that introduced and welcomed visitors from 63 countries from five continents to the Isle of Man.
Each team paraded the stadium to music from the Manx Youth and Concert Brass Band, welcomed with a warm applause and a barrage of trivia from entertaining host Graham Davies. As the young athletes from large and small European, African, Asian, North American and South Pacific nations followed their flag-bearers to take their seats as part of the 3,000-strong crowd in the newly developed all-seater arena, there was a feeling that this was an occasion on a scale not ever before seen in Manx sporting history.
His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex Prince Edward, in his role as Vice Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation, declared the games officially open. He thanked the island for welcoming the Commonwealth family to its shores.
The games flag was then raised to the pounding official anthem Reach Higher, penned by Manx rocker Davy Knowles, as the crowd’s enthusiasm bubbled over into the new Bowl Stadium’s first Mexican wave. Two laps no less.
The party atmosphere continued as the lights dimmed and a cast of 250 put on a spectacle presided over by Mannanan himself, legendary Manx god and protector.
The age of fairies gave way to the Viking invasion; the lighting turned blood-red and a longboat with a fire-breathing dragons head led the charge.
Crafty choreography in dancing, gymnastics and parkour performance then blended world styles, as traditional Manx dancing and music washed into routines with Eastern and Caribbean flavours. A huge floating globe entered the arena as the show reached its climax with fiery pyrotechnics. The field full of young performers then drank in their deserved standing ovation from the crowd. The audience stayed on their feet as Rebecca Lawrence performed the Manx National Anthem to close the ceremony.
The show was a huge success that even the weather co-operated with. Here’s to an equally successful games, and good luck to all the athletes.