The real east London: an Olympic view from Hackney


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The Independent Online

Long before they even began, the London 2012 Games became - in the minds of many - deeply immersed in and reliant on corporate sponsorship. And there were many in Hackney's Haggerston Park, in east London, where thousands of locals not able to get their hands on tickets came to watch last night's Ceremony, who felt that the non-ticketed, non-sponsored party was more akin to the ideals of the original Olympics than the shindig going on just up the road in Stratford.

Hackney Council organised a celebratory party - Big Screen at Haggerston Park -  and, like at the Olympics proper, the much-maligned security firm G4S was on the door and there were long, slow-moving queue. But, once the ceremony started, people simply started jumping over the fences.

"Come on, let's get friendly, it's the Olympics," shouted one man.

Stewart Thurlow, 28, from London, said: "I wasn't too bothered until tonight and then today the build-up made it all hit that it was happening.

"This more like what they proposed originally. It is about Londoners coming together. The whole run-up has been quite corporate; as the torch went past, you had Coca-Cola handing out bottles.

"This is quite nice because it is not sponsored by McDonalds or Coca-Cola, we have not had to pay £2,012."

Robert Antonello, 42, from Melbourne in Australia, said the party atmosphere was helped by the fact that people could bring in their own food and drink.

Sarah Donegan, 28, from Hoxton, said she thought the spectacle was "amazing". She said: "It's like a fantasy film." The big screen in the park cut off for two or three minutes at one point, which she said was "bound to happen, it's Britain".