|Taylor Ritzel, her Gold Medal, and Mayor Gierlach|
Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon, invited the Mayors from the Metro Mayors Caucus to their new Centennial Center Park (with amphitheater and a sloping grassy knoll) for a special VIP reception before the Governor welcomed the Colorado Olympians home from London, England.
I was flagged into the VIP parking lot and went into the VIP room which was packed.
After attending a few of these types of events, I got used to people calling me "Mr. Mayor" and escorting me to the front of the refreshment line. This rarely happens in Nederland, but in the flat-lands I get preferred status, usually for the logistical reason that they don't want elected officials waiting around in lines.
I have found that it is good to attend these regional events, even if it is nothing more than spending time with other mayors to talk about the Olympics. It allows us to make friendships for when we do have policy decisions to make, we've already established some common ground, and aren't communicating with a stranger.
I don't have a television, and I really wasn't up to speed on the Olympics, so I quickly learned that Missy Franklin was the real heroine of the 2012 Olympics, a five-time medalist, and high school student from Centennial, Colorado. Now I understood why Mayor Noon did all this.
So an Olympic looking woman walks in, and the crowd immediately swarms around her for autographs and photos. A real rock-star moment. But it turns out to be Taylor Ritzel, Gold Medalist from the USA Women's Eight Rowing Team. It's a false alarm for the Missy Franklin fans, but it allows me a little breathing room to get my picture, autograph, and a little conversation. And yes, she is quite tall in real life, a really nice woman, and a Yale grad! They don't give out gold medals for being average.
This is a video of Taylor and USA Women's 8 winning gold by inches in Lucerne in 2012. (from the Universal Sports Network)
It all brought back memories for me watching Franz Klammer in the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
Then I found out that Denver is the only city ever to work hard to be awarded the Olympic Games, and then turn it down! What? And it would have been the 1976 Olympics I watched as a kid. Here is the incredible story from NBC News, which made Governor Hickenlooper's welcoming speech that much better.
But, as the governor was honoring all the Colorado Olympians, and Timmy Duggan is an Olympic bicyclist who lives in Nederland, I made the last seat on the stage on the far right.
Timmy Duggan's story is remarkable as described in this Denver Post article. Timmy was riding in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on the other side of the state that day, so he was mentioned by the governor, and I got to be the single person who stood up and cheer from the back of the stage when Nederland was recognized.
My view? Well, I really like that sloping grassy knoll they have in Centennial. What a great venue.
I did meet Missy Franklin after the event on stage, before security and the paparazzi took over.
But for every little girl in Centennial that day, seeing Missy Franklin at that event was as good as being in London at the Olympics.
[Here is a Video Valediction] This is a video that was created by a Missy Franklin fan using another viral video where Olympians lip-synched Carly Rae Jepsen's hit Call Me Maybe, popular during the 2012 Summer Olympics. [What is a Video Valediction?]