Friday, July 27, 2012

Red Arrows fly past ... Victoria Square, but not over Belfast City Hall!

I was in a meeting in London on 6 July 2005 whenever there was an enormous roar of jet engines and the thought that we were about to be caught up in a 9/11 attack crossed most people's minds in the room. The noise passed and the meeting continued. About an hour later we heard that the Red Arrows had flown past Trafalgar Square to celebrate London winning the 2012 Olympic bid. (The next day, I was back in Belfast, but colleagues were caught up in London's deadly 7/7 attacks on three underground trains and a double-decker bus.)

At lunchtime today, hundreds of people loitered in the heavy rain near the front of Belfast City Hall. Many took refuge in shop doors and shop fronts down Donegall Place.

With seconds to go, many stepped out into the middle of the road (and played chicked with the driver of a red lorry who seemed bemused at why his road was no longer clear). Photographers aimed their lenses straight up the street to get a shot of the red, white and blue plumes going over the City Hall's dome ...

For people standing at the Burger King side of the street it was a case of all sound no picture as they heard the roar of the planes as they flew well to the east, perhaps more over Victoria Square than the City Hall! People stood around bemused, as if wondering whether the fly past had happened yet.

A damp squib, but nonetheless, Belfast marking the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Don't expect to read too much on the blog about the Olympics!

The big screen in the grounds of Belfast City Hall will be showing action from the Olympics and Paralympics over the next few weeks.
The Red Arrows are also doing a fly-past in each of the four UK capital cities to mark the start of the Games. They will fly over City Hall, up Donegall Place and out over south Belfast at approximately 1pm on Friday.

The opening ceremony promises to be a spectacular occasion as we look forward to a summer of sport with the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Those coming along to Friday`s celebrations at City Hall will also be able to take part in an Olympic sing-along as part of the opening ceremony, with song sheets being provided.

There will be daily coverage of the Olympics on the big screen until 10pm or 11pm as local athletes including Alan Campbell (rowing), Peter and Richard Chambers (rowing), Wendy Houvenaghel (cycling), Paddy Barnes (boxing), Michael Conlan (boxing) and Lisa Kearney (judo) compete.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to finish at midnight and anyone wishing to stay until the end is reminded to check public transport times and plan their journey home in advance

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