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Olympic Day In Orlando

John Davis, Orlando FL Chapter

Orlando Fashion Square Mall shoppers knew something big was about to happen on Sunday afternoon, June 23. Crowds had gathered in front of the Center Court Stage and along the 2nd floor railings overlooking the stage. TV cameras and reporters were interviewing two athletes in Olympic outfits. Dozens of dancers in competition costumes were lining up along the main concourse.

Suddenly, the sound of Olympic music filled the mall and the Olympians entered, leading the Parade of Athletes and carrying the Olympic Day banner, followed by more than 60 DanceSport athletes behind the Orlando USA Dance Chapter banner.

The Olympic athletes took the stage: Paula King, 1976/1980 Olympics High Jumper from Tampa; and Brittany Viola, 2012 Olympics Diver originally from Orlando. They commented about their Olympic experiences and the Olympic Ideals of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect, and Sportsmanship. The crowd listened with rapt attention.

A proclamation from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs was read, proclaiming June 23 as "Olympic Day" in Orange County, and explaining that USA Dance Inc. is the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the U.S.

The Orlando Chapter's DanceSport athletes, all ages and levels, then took the stage and the "model" competition began. Ten competition heats alternated with 20 awesome showcase performances. The first spotlight performance was a Rumba by seven visually-impaired dancers and their volunteer USA Dance partners from our Chapter's dance classes with Lighthouse of Central Florida. The second performance was a Merengue by four dancers with Special Needs and their volunteer USA Dance partners from our Chapter's dance classes with the City of Altamonte Springs. The third dance was a wonderful ChaCha by the youngest dancer, 4-yr-old Grace Drummond dancing with her father Ricky.

Preteen and teen dancers from Giving Dance Inc. performed several numbers and danced in the DanceSport heats - preparation for attending their third USA Dance National DanceSport Championships next year. USA Dance National Social Dance Vice-Pres Jean Krupa was a volunteer "judge" for the model heats, along with Assistant District 9 Coordinator Darlene Siciliano. Our Chapter Board members handled registration.

We also included fun Merengue, Swing, and Salsa songs where athletes and audience all danced together. The crowd loved it, and the mall rocked for a solid two hours!

Our thanks to the U.S. Olympic Committee, Olympians Paula & Brittany, DJ's Bobby & Judi, our dancers, volunteers, photographers, and the Orlando Fashion Square Mall.

We look forward to showing the public the excitement of DanceSport again at next year's Olympic Day Celebration.

Photo Courtesy of John Davis