Olympic Legacy Plaza opened in Salt Lake City

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    By Rebecca Ryser

    Hundreds of Team 2002 members, spectators, and Olympic officials gathered Saturday for the Grand Opening of the Olympic Legacy Plaza at The Gateway in Salt Lake City.

    The purpose of the Legacy Plaza is for people to have a place to come and celebrate the Games, said Mitt Romney, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

    “When these Games are over, after all the controversy and all the hills we”ve climbed, people will remember them with a very warm feeling and they”ll want to go to a place where they can celebrate that experience,” Romney said.

    The event featured the unveiling of a massive fountain shaped like a snowflake, the 2002 Winter Games logo. The crowd watched as the fountain sent columns of water 60 feet into the air while loudspeakers played the Olympic theme song.

    After the display, children with painted faces flirted with the water and chased each other through the fountain.

    Linda Metke, from Sandy, Salt Lake County, and a Team 2002 volunteer, joined the spectators in walking over the fountain.

    “I just felt kind of a thrill that this is really going to happen and it”s going to work and it”s going to be good,” Metke said.

    The Olympic fountain will run every day all winter long, even in rain, snow and bitter cold, Romney said.

    To prevent the water from freezing to the sidewalk, endangering those walking around it, the sidewalk and the water will be heated, Romney said.

    Fountain designer and Utah native Mark Fuller also engineered the fountain for the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and another in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

    “None of them are as exciting to me as being here in my home state and being able to do something for the Olympics,” he said.

    Besides the water show, two of the Olympic mascots, Copper and Powder, entertained the crowd by pretending to play Olympic sports.

    The Plaza opening took place just a few days before the Olympic flame will be lit, and 90 days before the Games will officially begin in Salt Lake.

    “Next week, the rays of the sun will be collected and a flame will be lit,” Romney said.

    Also unveiled at the celebration were three walls that will be engraved with the names of each Team 2002 volunteer member after the Games.

    “Your name will be placed on this wall of honor as a permanent legacy for the people who come to Salt Lake City to remember the Games,” Romney told Team 2002 members.

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