We were told last week that the English Program (EP) teachers and the exchange students would be attending the Opening Ceremony for the Suphanburi Games - and that was the only information we were given. (Side note: for the next few weeks there are about 15 American teenagers from Lodi High School in Wisconsin and about 6 Tasmanian teenagers visiting as part of an exchange program at the school). Yesterday after school, an easy day for me considering all of my classes had been cancelled so the students could practice for their evening performance, we were shuttled into the school bus with the school driver, Mr. Legend, and off to the Suphanburi Games.
Once we arrived we were ushered to our seats right in the center and right next to the spot of honor reserved for the Ex-Prime Minister of Thailand, who hails from Suphanburi, and handed a yellow flag to wave around to show our pride. We had no idea of the spectacle that awaited us.
What followed was 3 different concerts, which I'm told--and I believe based on the reaction of the crowd and the decibel level of the teenage girls screaming--featured the biggest pop stars in Thailand, a few speeches by important people, a parade of provinces and their representatives to the Games, and a fireworks and torch lighting display that can only be described as above and beyond anything I've ever seen for a high school sports competition in the States. The torch was lit by two Thai teenagers, suspended above the crowd by wires, who took the smaller torch from the Prime Minister and lit something that then set off a series of explosions that zip-lined across and around the main stadium before setting fire to the big torch. It also set off a fireworks display that quickly ended in most people suffering from smoke inhalation and left me with a hole in my skirt after an ash briefly set it on fire. It was definitely an experience!
|New favorite Pop Star!|
All in all, it was a really great night, the traditional Thai music and dance are so beautiful and captivating, it was a great welcome not only for the exchange students in their first few hours in this country, but also for me as I'm still getting acclimated to my new surroundings. Nell and I both admitted we got a little bit emotional watching the events unfold, we feel so lucky to be able to take part in these festivities in our adopted hometown!
|Reminds me of a certain celebration in the North End...|
|I think this crowd features the entire population of the Soup|
|The fireworks that set me on fire; thanks to the lady behind me for defusing the situation.|