October 30 2014 Latest news:
Sophie Morton, Reporter
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
After a year and a half of closure and redevelopment, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park finally opened to the public with a weekend of special events.
Visitors could choose to participate in taster sessions for a range of sports and fitness activities, while bands, dancers and circus performers entertained crowds throughout the south of the park.
Acrobats performed from the side of the ArcelorMittal Orbit and 250 schoolchildren took part in a parade.
Hundreds of people turned up to celebrate the reopening, including friends Linton Bennett and Andrew Munuo, who went to school in Stratford and are now in their 40s.
Linton, right, who lives in Upton Park, said: “No-one in a million years would have thought this would have ended up on Stratford’s doorstep.
“Previously the closest thing we had to a commercial district was the freight train station.
“No-one thought much about Stratford in those days.
“It’s put Stratford on the map and given it a new lease of life.”
With five sporting venues open for public use and the creation of a new children’s play area, there is something in the park to cater for everyone.
Simon Henry, right, from Crystal Palace, brought his two-year-old daughter Matilda to the launch.
He said: “It’s great to have a space like this to come to.
“When you have young children you really appreciate having a place you can take them and be safe.
“I think they are doing a really good job so far [with the legacy].
“I didn’t get to come to the Games so I’m glad that I get to come into the park now.”
The 560-acre park will be open 24 hours a day all year round so people can visit whenever they choose – like Helen and John Murray.
Helen, 80, from Woodford, right, said: “When it is in full bloom it will be lovely.
“It’s marvellous for the children – they can run about and cycle and it’s nice for us to walk about.
“I have been to Barcelona and we saw their Olympic stadium and nothing has been done around the area at all.
“We have done it quite quickly here.
“It’s not taken years, which is a good sign.”