light show

Photo credit: London Free Press

An embattled mayor facing a legal battle and suspicions of misconduct.

A city council repeatedly in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Stagnant economic growth.

Spiking unemployment rates.

An increasingly bitter and pessimistic population.

This is the reality of London as it became time to host the world for the prestigious World Figure Skating Championship, an event the city has been planning and anticipating for years, since we first won the bid to host this massive event. Even against this unenviable backdrop, our city prepared to show the world the very best of what we have to offer.

Another point of contention has been the many items on the city budget connected to the event itself, especially the sound and light show projected to cost $600,000 to project a presentation on the side of the Budweiser Gardens every night of the competition. Many debates were held around the major item, and there was a great deal of public backlash, especially as other public and social services were mulled for trimming in the name of 0% tax increases. Deals were made, the project budget was trimmed, and many sponsors came forward as the event loomed to pick up some of the expense the city balked at.

Only time will truly tell if the expenses were worth it, but this week the sound and light show “Tree of Light” was a massive success with those that came out to watch it, both visitors from around the world, and many Londoners that came out to watch the show. The projection spectacular was put together by Montreal company Moment Factory, and made to both bring to life the skating event for those outside, and to showcase London itself. London journalist Larry Cornies wrote a detailed report and sparkling review of the event in this article.

But was the light show worth it? Check out the video below and judge for yourself.

This is the sound and light show, projected on the side of the event venue, Budweiser Gardens:

This wasn’t the only effort made to promote the event, by any means.

One element of London’s preparation for the event that I thought was brilliantly done was the selection of 5 London bloggers to promote the event, but perhaps more importantly, to promote the city itself. The site for the blogs is here, part of the larger “Canada’s London” promotion package. In reading through the posts, I discovered many new events and places I want to check out, and was reminded of many parts I’d previously explored and enjoyed. Perhaps then, this is the lasting magic of the event: perhaps we can collectively fall back into love with our home.

Something else that helped with this re-discovery was this great promotional video put together during the World Figure Skating Championship. Check it out:

London has been acknowledged by those that visited us this part week for the World Figure Skating Championship to be gracious hosts, welcome and courteous to the world. We have been told that we gave them a great time and lasting memories that they will share for years to come.

In no way will our problems disappear overnight. If nothing else, this wonderful event has been a respite from the problems facing our city, and hopefully, a breath of fresh air in a city that has in many ways become unable to see beyond the present woes. Let us return to the issues we must face in the week ahead, but work to do it without forgetting the week we just had. London didn’t hold up a false front to the world, this isn’t a case of “pay no mind to the man behind the curtain”. This week we showed the world what we are capable of, and I hope, rediscovered a potential we may have forgotten we have. This week, we showed the world our best. I hope that as we move ahead, we may continue to work to show this side we showed the world to each other.

Let’s take a moment to thank the world for what they have given us. A renewed sense of self, and knowledge that we are both global citizens and part of a very special community. Let’s move forward from this with renewed passion for our city, and set our minds to finding ways we can all make it a little better.