Pan American Games got off to a stunning start with a vibrant opening ceremony Friday evening at the Omnilife Stadium here at Guadalajara, Mexico.
The program was interspersed with traditional regional motifs, fireworks lighting up the night sky, lively musical acts and the clever coordinated use of colored flashlights by the audience.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon received cheers just before he officially opened the games.
Mexico’s Olympic diving medallist Paola Espinosa came down on wires to light the cauldron that sent fireballs shooting toward the roof of the Omnilife Stadium for the dramatic lighting of the Pan American torch.
Enriquetta Basilio, who had lit the torch at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, carried the games torch into the stadium to hand it over to other top Mexican athletes, including equestrian Alberto Valdes, silver and bronze medallist in the London Olympics of 1948, and Maria del Rosario Espinoza, taekwnodo Olympic gold medallist in Beijing 2008.
The Mexican delegation of athletes – were dressed in traditional charro (equestrian) uniforms with huge white sombreros.
Athletes of other nations, including Cuba, Brazil and Canada, also were welcomed with thunderous applause.