Parade of Nations Gets the Party Started in Vegas
Las Vegas is a city where everything is big; big shows, big celebrations, big winners, even big failures. One of the gems on the event side, that has become a big success not just for rugby but for all events that come to the city, is the annual “Parade of Nations” that kicks off the HSBC Sevens Series each year. Held in the historic part of Las Vegas, along Fremont Street, the Thursday night event draws tens of thousands to a part of Las Vegas that was forgotten not too long ago, and is now a hub of revival, especially for those young visitors from around the world looking for a different vibe than what they get on Las Vegas Boulevard.
The hour-long show gives both the passionate and die hard fan a chance to see, touch and feel the stars of all the teams, now expanded with the women’s field coming in, as the teams walk several blocks through the crowd with their fellow countrymen, before coming to a celebratory stage where they are feted by cheers of thousands, while revelers fly by on a zipline overhead. It is a celebration of rugby, of the city, and of culture, that is akin to the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games, only on a much more intimate scale. This year’s event even had a few surprises, like Tournament Director Jon Hinkin getting things started doing his best Michael Buffer imitation, and longtime UFC icon Forrest Griffin taking to the stage to round things up and admitting he played rugby…albeit for a week at the University of Georgia, before he decided he didn’t like…getting hit.
All in all, the “Parade of Nations” once again served as a great celebratory kickoff for what will be a record weekend in las Vegas, uniting athletes from around the globe with their fans less than 18 hours before those same athletes will be waging war against each other on the field. Oh and Mr. Griffin, if you thought the hitting was too hard on the club team at Georgia, try and matchup this weekend against the Olympic Champions from Fiji; they may send you back to some not so pleasant days not just in Athens, Georgia, but in the Octagon as well. All of course, in celebration of rugby, a great international game ready to give Las Vegas its best, starting on Friday morning.