The launch of a massive laser rainbow over Preston heralds the start of a fantastic year of Olympic and Guild celebrations, Olympian Jonathan Edwards declared last night.
Dozens of guests from the sports, civic and arts worlds packed out the balcony at the front of the Harris Museum to catch a glimpse of the Global Rainbow, a huge artwork which will light up the skies of Preston until Sunday.
The installation, which is being beamed nightly from Preston Docks, is designed to be seen from as far away as Chorley, Blackburn and parts of Blackpool.
Former triple-jumper Jonathan, who broke the world record for his sport in 1995, said: “The foundation has been laid for this part of the UK to have an amazing celebration.
“The Games are not just happening in London – they are happening here.
“It’s not just a sporting event.
“It’s a celebration of everything that is best about humanity and about striving to reach your potential, whether that be in triple jump or playing a musical instrument.
“That’s the spirit the Olympics and Paralympics embody.”
As the button was pressed to beam the laser rainbow from Preston Marina, Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad, told guests at the museum: “We have worked so hard and so long to offer new, inspiring and astonishing examples of world-class art.
“You are one of our most outstanding creative regions where innovation is second to none.”
Stella Hall, festival director of Preston Guild, said the launch event had created a real buzz about events to come.
She said: “I’m thrilled we in Preston are launching the Cultural Olympiad for the region and are taking our place a major city. I’m buoyed by the spirit in the place today.”
Preston Guild volunteer Paul Edmondson, 59, of Fulwood, had the plum job of looking after Jonathan Edwards’s suit, which he needed for another function on a tour of the North West.
Paul said: “It’s been a fantastic event.
“I didn’t realise how big and bright the rainbow would be.
“It will highlight what’s goingon in Preston with the Cultural Olympiad and the Guild.”