Horse Guards Parade: An Oasis Of Sand In The Midst Of Old England
Horse Guards Parade is about the last thing you’d expect to see against a backdrop of centuries old buildings in London’s Westminster area, but the beach volleyball venue has been one of the most popular sites of the 2012 Olympics.
The beach volleyball arena is a square of sand surrounded by grandstands and set against the ornate architecture of Westminster’s buildings. Though the venue has been splashed with rain and chilly weather through much of the first few days of the Olympic Games, the stereotypical London weather hasn’t scared the spectators away so far–too much at least. The Daily Mail noted that during the worst of rainstorms spectators abandoned the outdoor seats to watch from indoors.
Horse Guards Parade–a ceremonial area that once played host to jousting tournaments during the time of King Henry VIII–is basically in the prime minister’s front yard and not far from Buckingham Palace and Parliament, the Associated Press reported. The Horse Guards, which normally occupy the grounds when they aren’t covered with sand, are busy doing their usual routine across the street, the report noted.
The venue has played host so far to some exciting performances, like a match where Spanish competitors Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan came from a set down to defeat Holland. Many spectators have come to see the fit and athletic female players competing in bikinis–and sometimes a little bit more clothing to deal with the chilly weather.
For American audiences, all eyes are turned on Horse Guards Parade to see if the fantastic duo of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh can make good on their bid for a third successive Olympic beach volleyball gold medal. They got off to a perfect start so far with an opening victory over Australia in the day’s concluding game.
Horse Guard Parade has been the hottest ticket so far of the Olympics, the Daily Mail noted. On the opening day the festivities kicked off with a combination of bikinis, beer and Benny Hill. For the more than 15,000 people in attendance, the nationalities of the teams mattered little as all the bumps, sets and spikes elicited cheers.
Olympic organizers have done their best to make Horse Guards Parade a truly “British” venue filled with excitement. The Benny Hill theme plays during breaks in play and an over-the-top announcer does all he can to stir the emotions of the crowd, the Daily Mail noted. Cheerleaders in 50s style outfits sweep onto the court of Horse Guards Parade for crowd-pleasing dance routine between matches.