A decade ago this week, as 2010 Winter Olympics fever gripped Vancouver and Whistler, Surrey’s Holland Park was a place to party, too.
As an official “Venue City,” Surrey embraced the Games as host of a busy Celebration Site at Holland Park.
Attracted by live music, the RCMP Musical Ride, interactive sports, food, liquor and big-screen action, an estimated 250,000 people visited the park during those 17 days in February.
The indoor concert hall was dubbed Surrey House, positioned next to a large outdoor Celebration Stage where Blue Rodeo opened the festivities on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.
Drummer Bobby James remembers performing at the opening ceremony with Destineak, a musical duo that also features his wife, vocalist Christina Sing, for an audience of close to 8,000.
“It was a huge rush,” said James, who now lives in Surrey. “It was so windy they shut down one of the main stages at Holland Park because the tent was going to blow over!”
Surrey’s Celebration Site staged dozens of performers that month, including Randy Bachman, 54-40, Wintersleep, Wide Mouth Mason, Marianas Trench, Dan Mangan, Malkit Singh and more.
Trevor Hurst, singer with the rock band Econoline Crush, got the gig as emcee of the Surrey site for the run of the Games.
“There so many amazing memories from those two weeks,” Hurst told the Now-Leader on the phone from Brandon, Manitoba.
“One of the best was when Team Canada was in the gold-medal final (of men’s hockey),” he recalled. “We’re watching at Surrey House and there was this little red-leather Molson Canadian couch that sat off of stage left, just sat there. So I was sitting there talking to Randy Bachman during the game, and then his wife sat on the other side of me, so we’re squished in there on this tiny couch. And then Canada scores, everybody jumps up and we’re hugging. So the first person I hug is Randy Bachman – is there a more Canadian moment than that? It was unbelievable.”
Weeks earlier, on Monday, Feb. 8, Surrey’s leg of the Olympic torch run began in Cloverdale and continued through streets of Newton, Fleetwood and Guildford before reaching Holland Park for a big community event. Some 175 people carried the torch through Surrey, including “Community” torchbearers Brittany Reimer (Olympic swimmer and Cloverdale resident), Adam Loewen (Newton-raised pro baseball player), Mark Madryga (Global TV meteorologist) and others. In the end, Olympic gold-medalist wrestler Daniel Igali had the honour of lighting a cauldron on the Holland Park stage.
A big attraction at Surrey’s Celebration Site was the RCMP Musical Ride, a 32-horse drill team that performed inside a 1,700-seat tent pitched on the southern edge of Holland Park. The choreographed equestrian squad was so popular that people lined up for hours to get free tickets to see the 30-minute show.
The Musical Ride was among attractions featured in Surrey Celebrates!, a Now-published daily newspaper full of news, photos and stories from the Celebration Site during the Games.
The paper also featured photos of the Celebration Dance Team, created for the occasion by dancer/choreographer Kelly Konno, and Surrey Children’s Choir, who sang an uplifting, piano-driven song called “From My Home,” co-written by Loverboy keyboardist Doug Johnson and Don Wells. “The song embodies the essence of our community’s Olympic spirit and will be yet another legacy of Surrey’s 2010 Winter Games participation,” then-mayor Dianne Watts said at the time.
There were some gaffes at Surrey’s Celebration Site, like the time Dustin Bentall forgot the words to “O Canada” at Surrey House. His mid-song stumble with the lyrics caused several audience members to jeer his performance. “Help me out here, people, what’s the next line?” Bentall said from the stage. “Oh yeah, God keep our land…” he continued, to applause. Thankfully, someone in the crowd knew the words and helped the guy out.
As event emcee, Hurst heard and saw plenty at Surrey’s Celebration Site.
“It was crazy, and so many weird things happened,” he recalled.
“I remember when Blue Rodeo was playing the main stage, on the first night, there was Delhi 2 Dublin playing Surrey House and they had super subs going. I remember (Blue Rodeo’s Greg) Keelor coming over and yelling, ‘Can’t you get those guys to turn that down?!” He was losing it. It was nuts, but so much fun.”
Another time, an alarm kept going off during Serena Ryder’s set.
“It was malfunctioning, in this beep-beep rhythm,” Hurst said. “So the guys in her band bail off the stage but I’m standing there with her, and she tunes her guitar to the pitch of the alarm and she jams to the rhythm of the beep-beep sound, and singing over it by herself. It was such a cool moment and everybody went nuts.”
A fond memory for Hurst was the time he met Streetheart singer Kenny Shields, who died seven years later, in 2017.
“I’m from the Winnipeg scene and watched him a thousand times, and they were huge for me,” Hurst explained. “So I have a great picture from that night of me and Kenny, and I told him, ‘Man, without you, there could be no way I do what I do – there would be no ‘me’ as a singer, a musician. You know, thank you.’ And I could see that he was tearing up, and the picture of us with these two big smiles, these two Winnipeg rockers, it’s so great for me, especially now that’s he passed. I’m glad I got to tell him that when I did.”