Olympic Victory Parade Starting at Bank/Mansion House

IT’S October the 16th, 2008, and I decide to make the most of living on the City fringe by attending the start of the Olympic Victory Parade. Hearing that it would be starting at 11am, I set off early. Only to be greeted with traffic that barely moved and a bus that diverted much earlier than expected. This made me think I would get there too late, so I leg it for Bank and find streets strangely deserted of traffic.

There was a crowd of about one deep along the fence at Threadneedle Street. Luckily, I snagged a spot on the curb at the corner of Threadneedle Street and Princes Street.

There’s wasn’t at first. There were the usual Police.

And there was a camera on a pole.

And a lot of school children down Queen Victoria Street to Mansion House. Plus a banner saying that the City of London congratulates our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Within a couple of minutes of my arrival, things started happening. What looked like the Queen’s Guards started marching to their starting point at the end of Princes Street. And various media and press started buzzing around.

Behind them, we got out first glimpse of the floats.

Next, Olympic and Paralympic athletes were led out to the big junction that is Bank. Their role would be to wave the flag and start the parade. Something they would rehearse once or twice.

All the while, helicopters hummed around in the sky above.

At 11am drew nearer. And then passed, the excitement mounted. More and more crew arrived and got into place. Notice the boom microphone man moving around.

11:05am, and everything is lined up and ready to go.

The athletes are about the wave the flag…

…And the parade is on!

The guards march past playing their instruments.

Then, the first of what would become many, many floats.

At this point, I realise that I can’t name them. Whoever they are, I, and every once else in my cheering crowd was delighted to see them.

That was the float on which Chris Hoy was standing. And yes, you could see him from where I was standing. Even though the camera wasn’t good enough to capture the moment.

The bit in-between each float was unexpected. There were people carrying tape featuring the sponsors names and logos.

Float number two, and this one is packed full of athletes. If only I knew who they were. Even though my camera is awful, you can still see their medals.

Float three brings us a more sparsely populated, but no less welcomed float of athletes.

Float four approaches…

…and passes all too soon.

The fifth float arrives moments later.

On this one, the camera man at the back of the float is easier to see. When I got home and switched on the TV, I’d discover that these were for Matt Baker and Sur Barker to interview the athletes with.

The fifth float leaves the scene…

And the sixth float arrives. A lot of our excellent Paralympians on this one.

All too quick, the seventh float arrives.

And leaves.

Where do they keep coming from? I had no idea there were this many athletes. Here is float eight.

Float nine promptly follows.

Another float quickly appears. This would be float ten. Incredible.

My ancient camera is rapidly running out of memory. But I keep clicking. Here comes float number eleven. It was good to see athletes in every float taking photos of us, as much as we were of them.

All too soon, the twelfth and final float arrives. This one has the gorgeous Rebecca Addlington, even though my camera was too slow to capture her. Of all the floats, this one is one of the most attractive. And gets a lot of cheers and whoops from the crowd.

With all the floats passed, next come all the support vehicles.

Most hilariously, a man on a bicycle follows. Only to get told by a policeman not to.

And that was my fun, if chilly morning cheering our talented and good looking Olympian and Paralymic athletes.

If you were an athlete on a float, leave a message below of what it was like from your perspective. Do please email me your photos if you took any.

Leave a message too if you were one of the crew or someone who happened to be standing near where I was.

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