I am sure that Oprah’s life is cool and all, and she gets to go to lots of places as a VIP.Today though it was my turn. I was a VIP at a celebration in Ilderton, Ontario for Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and hometown hero Scott Moir. It was a remarkable afternoon and evening.

Ilderton is a village not far from London, Ontario and boasts a population of about 1,400, and the celebration included a parade on the main drag, a presentation in the arena and then a community celebration on the fairgrounds. I was told that there was not a business in this small town that had not participated in some way by either donating money, services or time.

Sadly I missed the parade but was delighted to be part of the packed house on hand in the arena for the special presentations.

What made them special was the “love in the room”. There wasn’t anyone who had been a part of their journey who wasn’t acknowledged. Coaches Paul MacIntosh, Suzanne Killing, Becky Babb and John Briscoe were singled out as the ones who gave this team their foundation. Marina Zueva and Igor Shpillband along with Jonny Johns were given credit as the ones who had brought them to Olympic greatness.

All around me, stories of a young Tessa and Scott and “where were you when you first saw them?”. Valerie Jones Bartlett, herself a Canadian champion remembers being the technical director for the Western Ontario Section and coming to see them for the first time. Paul MacIntosh asked them to perform their number and when they finished she recalls with a laugh Scott saying: “Mr Mac, there was a beat in there that I didn’t use.” I reminisced with biggest brother Danny that I saw Tessa and Scott for the first time in Ilderton when I was there with Ice Nightmare for a show about 11 years ago. I remember watching them through the curtain and saying to Danny that as much as I thought he was a great dancer, baby brother Scott was going to be nipping at his heels pretty soon. Even then their talent was huge.

Family, friends and Skate Canada were acknowledged but the night really belonged to the people of Ilderton.

So many groups that had played a part in the Tessa and Scott story were represented: from Scott’s school – The Oxbow Public School choir, dressed in red t-shirts that said “Oxbow Believed” with the Olympic rings and 2010 on them, sang O Canada as well as the Olympic song Believe. Scott’s grandfather made a presentation to the two as part of the Canadian Legion – it was very touching. There were the young winners from the town’s Olympic poster contest who were called up and got their picture taken with the Champions. The four parents: Alma and Joe Moir and Kate and Jim Virtue got up and the dads had the chance to speak. I had to laugh when Jim said that 15 years ago the Virtue girls, Jordan and Tessa were going to skate in Ilderton over the summer as a break from gymnastics. He said it was for fun. “They weren’t going to compete” Jim said with a chuckle. That didn’t last long.

Everywhere you looked you could see the pride on people’s faces and through it all Tessa and Scott smiled and were gracious and humble. It was a personal celebration in very different ways for all concerned with everyone getting to relive the moment they knew these two had become Olympic champions. Seeing their performances on 2 large screens was a great way to relive Vancouver. Spontaneously, the crowd was on its’ feet cheering the replay of the free dance and singing O Canada along with Scott and Tessa on the podium. Some moments never get old.

It felt like an occasion from a bygone era in the nicest possible way. An era where families stuck together and neighbours were there to help.

Oprah – you missed a great party!

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