Arriving in South Lake Tahoe Friday night with no snow in the trees, the creeks half full and not many people on the road it was looking to be a low key weekend. Saturday morning 8am, with clear skies over shoulder, I was ready to hit Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort for whatever kind of snow it had to offer! Wasn’t expecting anyone to be there… boy, was that a mistake!
Only open for an hour and already the lot was filling up! Were all these people coming out to ski this early? I think not! This entire community was in full swing to celebrate and welcome home 2014 Winter Olympic Ski Team members, Jamie Anderson, Hannah Teter and Gold Medalist, Maddie Bowman from Sochi, Russia!
Electricity was in the air! Everyone on task with a purpose – florists bringing in their blooms, food venders setting up for the feast, face painters arranging their brushes, jugglers warming up on their balls (stop that – no pun intended!). Adding to the festivities, the local high school had sent a squad of cheerleaders doing some incredible acrobatics and band to rock the house.
Families, local news, and photographers were lining up along the entrance to the resort ready to greet the procession for these girls with signs, smiles and screams! First came the police motorcycle escorts, followed by the Mayor and of course a bright shiny red fire truck with the girls on top in patriotic form each waving our American flag. The folks went crazy!
When the girls walked down into the crowd of hundreds you could feel the love. Those in the front of the crowd reached out to shake their hands, farther back, triumphant hands waved high in the air above the heads of those overwhelmed and crying, all backed up the never ending screams of glory.
California State Sen. Ted Gaines, El Dorado County Supervisors, Lake Tahoe City Officials along with high school teachers and coaches were among those who stood up to speak praises for Maddie, Jamie and Hannah. Handing out awards, certificates flowers and hugs everyone was glowing in the warmth of achievement.
Following the speeches, a booth had been set in place for the crowd to get autographs, I saw a stack of very cool posters, but people brought in hats, gloves, home made posters, banners I even saw a ticket stub from the Olympics in Russia! One little girl was visibly shaking with excitement, at which time one of them came around the table and gave her a hug – the greatest moment ever for that little girl!
Truly an honor to witness and be a part of this community’s finest moment! When folks come together, magic can happen, as it did that day in South Lake Tahoe!