The Brazilian people are warm hearted, fun-loving, and generally need the smallest of excuses to gin up an impromptu, informal party. I saw these small, lively, spontaneous get togethers many times, spilling from the bars into the streets, accompanied of course by samba music. The last night of the Olympics, however, proved that given planning, resources, funding and preparation, Brazilians are capable of throwing a REALLY BIG PARTY.
Such as the one last night, as the Olympic flame was extinguished at legendary Maracana Stadium and Rio said goodbye to the world in ebullient Carioca fashion. I have rarely, if ever, been caught up with my cameras in such a swirl of genuine delight, and good will. The naif in me kept thinking, if only the world could be like this all the time. Ok, maybe some of the time? A few days a year?
It was fun to cover the Closing Ceremonies, but not easy. It rained most of the night, and while cameras were tarped, they got soaked anyway. My D5’s got hammered, but kept working. Most of the lens rags I brought became useless, as they became puddles unto themselves. The party went on, though, with lively characters dancing right through the raindrops.
Flash, like tripods, are forbidden for the accredited photogs at the Games. But, when the flame went out, all bets were off, and, surprisingly 😉 I had a flash in my bag. Hand held, driven by radio TTL (WRR-10), it gave just enough frontal boost to the ensure some sharpness as the crazy lights of the stadium played over the participants in intermittent fashion.
It was a glorious sendoff, a colorful, emphatic rebuttal to the prophets of doom and the naysayers that clamored for the Games to be canceled, and predicted that these Olympics would sink in a swamp of unpreparedness. Said swamp of course would be patrolled by Zika bearing mosquitos. Rio did it. Rough around the edges to be sure, but this city can stand proud. The volunteers did their best to be helpful, the soldiers were plum cordial, and the athletes were sublime. Bolt, Phelps and crew lifted us all above the mayhem and criticism, and as always, the sweat, honor and dignity of human competition held sway.
Farewell, Rio, and thank you…..more tk, from elsewhere….