Jack Basson: I witnessed something great at Bath's Olympic parade
Wednesday’s parade of Bath’s heroic Olympians and Paralympians was a truly uplifting experience.
It’s difficult to say whether the crowd or the athletes enjoyed it more - perhaps the more intimate applause from familiar faces compared well to that of the distant hordes at London?
It wasn’t just the sense of national pride embodied in the dozens - if not hundreds - of Union Flags being waved (not to mention the vast number of flag-themed balloons) that made the parade special. It was also the little moments such as a crowd member shouting ‘we know your mum!’ and laughter ensuing, or seeing children marvel at the weight of the athletes’ medals, once they left the bus.
The bus began its procession towards the Assembly Rooms at the University of Bath, after a reception there from vice-chancellor Bernard Morley. Led by an honour guard of mounted police, the athletes were welcomed by numerous crowds of people lining the streets. That, and almost as many flags as there were hands to hold them with!
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Near the bottom of Bathwick Hill, children raised cheers and flags. Further on, people waved from the ground, from scaffolds, from windows. Naturally, when the athletes left the bus at the end of the parade, all available benches were in use by photographers keen to catch the best moments on camera.
The people waiting to congratulate our athletes had a pride both palpable and - apparently - catching. Equally infectious were the enormous grins on the faces of those returned from London.
Though there was no ceremony or formality at the parade, merely witnessing athletes as extraordinary as our own Olympic and Paralympic veterans is enough to make one feel like a witness to something great.