Thursday, January 23, 2014

CH 1 – Travel writing evolution Assignment: They’re off and Pacing!

The trumpet song “First Call” blasts through the speakers.
The big white truck with fence like arms that extend a metre out to each side picks up speed. The horses line up and begin to follow the white truck around the turn. As they approach the start line the crowd’s anticipation builds for the 4 words they know are coming. “They’re off and pacing!” Yells race tack announcer Vance Cameron.
Each Announcer tries to develop their own signature send off similar to Michael Buffer’s “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!”I know Vance Cameron has won over the respect of the crowd but I think I speak for us all when I say Boomer (who is now our local weatherman) was the best. Boomer could take the time the race was won in and make it last as long as the actual race had been, his voice was so boisterous I often wondered if he even needed the microphone.
The horses have just completed their first lap of the Quarter Mile track, 1 more to go. The pounding of  32 hooves slamming into the gravel track sends up a thunderous echo and a cloud of dust. The excitement builds as 2 horses pull away from the pack, the #2 horse Mr. Dibs and the #5 horse Scarlet Starlet. They are rounding the back stretch now Mr Dibbs and Scarlet Starlet are neck and neck. People are beginning to stand and lean forward. As they go around the final turn and barrel toward the finish line people begin to yell and cheer. Suddenly the rolled up race programs are whips and the more excited members of the crowd are using them to urge along their pick, screaming things like “Come on!” “Almost there!”  It’s down to the wire, but what’s this Mr. Dibbs pulls ahead at the last second to win it, Scarlet Starlet right behind him to place and Lightning Boulevard for the triactor. Some tear up their tickets with varying degrees of disappointment on their faces others head down to collect the winnings from their bet. But my family and I head down to the winner’s circle for a photo with Mr. Dibbs and my Dad his Trainor/Owner/Driver.
The Charlottetown Driving Park in Prince Edward Island, Canada is where I spent many summer hours. It has changed a lot since I was a kid going from a white wooden building that could hold 500 to a shinny modern 50,000 sq ft. building complete with a casino and top of the park restaurant. The name isn’t even CDP it’s Red Shores, but what does remain is the beautiful white and green judges stand, located right at the finish line in the centre of the track. Originally built in 1889 the year the track first opened. It’s a wonderful example of how PEI has embraced the future while holding onto to a piece of our history. This balance of new and old is just one of the many things I love about Prince Edward.

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