The flag that waved proudly above Team Yukon as it entered the opening ceremonies at the Canada Summer Games on Aug. 2 has a name.
No, it’s not named after American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The Yukon flag is instead named after the title character of the children’s books Where’s Waldo?
The two Waldos have a couple things in common. They are both hard to find, but always seem to be in the middle of the action.
The difference is the Yukon Waldo is on the lam. It’s a fugitive flag wanted by the Canada Games host society. But it’s the Dr. Richard Kimble of flags: always one step ahead.
Waldo went missing following the opening ceremonies and has since been popping up all over the Games.
“What happened was, I was flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies and at the end of it no one took the flag away from me, so I just gave it to some Yukon people,” said Yukon’s Kieran Halliday. “I had it on the bus and it just sort of disappeared.
“I just handed it to some other Yukon athletes. It was dark that night and I couldn’t see who it was.”
It wasn’t long before Team Yukon’s chef de mission, Trevor Twardochleb, learned Waldo had (gulp) disappeared into the crowd following the ceremonies. It was a bit of a concern since Team Yukon couldn’t exactly borrow a flag from another jurisdiction for the closing ceremonies this Saturday.
“The following chef (de mission) meeting, there were three contingents identified for not returning their flag,” said Twardochleb. “I said, ‘There wasn’t anyone there to collect our flag, but we’ll check and find out where it is. I’m assuming it’s with Kieran.’”
The flag has since been showing up in photos alongside Yukon athletes, members of other teams, and volunteers at all the venues, including ones that Yukoners are not competing at. Somewhere there’s even a photo of it being waved by some handsome journalist from the Yukon who shall remain nameless.
Twardochleb left no stone unturned in his search for the elusive flag, following a trail of clues and eyewitness accounts. The day after the chef de missions’ meeting, a breakthrough…
“A day later, it showed up and they gave it to me,” said Twardochleb.
“Me and my roommate Kenny just asked around … the pole and the flag were actually found separately,” said Halliday. “They had managed to disassemble themselves. We got the flag and the pole back and it all ended up being pretty much fine.
“We just found them by the bag-check.”
So, if Waldo was recovered so soon, what’s with its elaborate photo tour? It’s like the garden gnome from the French movie Amelie.
“I thought, wouldn’t this be funny if we just kept the flag?” said Twardochleb. “It’s a three-by-six (foot) flag, and the stem on it would be great. It would be super at every venue.
“What I decided to do is keep it and run it around to as many venues, give it to as many kids, so this flag is visible everywhere you go.”
With the Games winding down, Waldo is still all over the place with its partner in crime, Twardochleb, not far away. It’s been waved in support of almost every Yukon athlete (except the golfers, since that sort of thing is frowned upon at golf tournaments).
It’s even been worn as a cape.
Waldo is easily the largest flag being waved by spectators at the Games.
“Through the course of the week (the Canada Games host society) would ask where the flag is, and I’d say, ‘We’re still looking for it,’” said Twardochleb. “From the meeting I’d take it out of my car, go to the next venue and give it to kids, or get volunteers (to wave it) in front of venues.”
Fear not, Waldo will soon be back in the hands of the host society of the Canada Games. Twardochleb plans to return it shortly before the closing ceremonies, but first he wants to push the joke a little further.
“I’m making a presentation tomorrow and what I’m going to do is take the photos of all the people who have had it – B.C., Ontario, people I’ve asked to hold it for a second,” he said. “I’m going to pretend that I’ve been investigating the fact that my flag is missing and have been trying to locate it. I’m going to say that I’ve got hold of security and the RCMP – because I have picture of (the flag) with the RCMP – and I’m looking for the flag, but every day I get sent these random photos.”
If only there was a medal for humour given out at the Games…
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