Zurich – May 2nd, 1997
It all began with the weather forecast the day before. Noelle Delaquis, who has been organizing the event in Zurich for the last several weeks, told us on the phone that Friday’s forecast was for sunshine and that the temperature would hit 19 degrees Celcius. The day before it had rained, and the day after it would rain again… OK! It turned out the forecasters were right, at least for yesterday, so we were surrounded by gorgeous sun and sunbathers as we hung, strung and generally laid out more of the GREAT BANNER TO FREE CORKY! than in any of our venues so far. The site was a lovely park called Landi-Wiese on the edge of Lake Zurich not far the centre of the city. Curiously, as our Big Pink Bus rolled in, we could see the trailers and vans of Switzerland’s Circus Knie at the other end of the park. Yep, the Circus was in town too, right alongside the FREE CORKY! SHOW. Someone in Zurich’s Permit office was probably amused by the juxtaposition, but there was to be no unpleasantness…. the day was far too lovely for that. The police never even put in an appearance all day, possibly because they’d been working too hard the day before trying to control an ugly May Day crowd. I suppose that having a peaceful scene… even if it was some kind of protest… about a whale in a far off tank that people want to see back home with her family must have seemed like a holiday after the bloody clashes of the day before.
I won’t go into all the details… really I just want you to know that Noelle had done a superb job of organising, and there was very little for us to do except help lay out the endless length of the GREAT BANNER, stringing rope between trees and poles to hang many sections along the edge of a busy roadway; more sections tied to the rails of a pedestrian bridge that ran across it; other sections… WHALES ALIVE FOR CORKY… hung from a walking bridge to a little island, more sections between more trees in the park, and lots and lots laid out on the grass as it dried in the sunshine. All the while the calls of orcas filled the air, kids painted & wrote faxes, in line skaters stopped to look and little groups of people came and went all day. It never seemd crowded, though once there were probably a couple of hundred kids there… it was just one of those lovely lazy summer days in the park. I ended up doing a lot of walking and looking at sections I’d never seen before… lovely images and messages from France, Switzerland, Japan and Coal Harbour, B.C. In the end, wherever you looked, CORKY’S GREAT FREEDOM BANNER filled the viewscape. The backdrop, of the city of Zurich and the hills and mountains beyond, was quite lovely too.
Corky’s story certainly made the news in Zurich that night… on tv the story ran on the hour each hour from 7pm to 11pm, and it was carried on national Swiss radio too. Our impression was that the journalists who attended our pressconference in the local yacht club (space kindly donated) were very interested in the issue and in Corky’s story… and certainly they were impressed by the BANNER and the overwhelming feelings of children it conveys. Many thoughtful, pertinent, questions about the chances for Corky’s successful return to her family were asked, as well as enough questions about details of the procedure and the pros and cons of releasing captive cetaceans to make me think the general issue is gaining profile and credence in Europe.
By now we’re becoming accustomed to these events, but I’m still impressed, even amazed, each time one comes off. I just can’t get enough of the BANNER… there’s still more to see, I know, and I know more is coming as I write, and more is being made.
Right now I’m sitting someone in the middle of France, at a truck stop while Pete is taaking his obligatory 9 hours rest. I have to tell you, he’s amazing… not only driving and staying cheerful, but getting totally stuck into helping put the BANNER up at each stop. The result of his efforts is a GREAT PINK BUS FOR CORKY! Thanks to Pete, also, we have our theme song… what else could it be but PINK by Aerosmith?
Thanks, ZURICH, thanks, NOELLE, thanks too to the blithe spirit who runs the weather side of things hereabouts.
Next, LONDON… and the gloomiest forecast yet. Rain and more rain on Sunday, they say. We’ll soon see, butwhatever the weather may hold, our message will come through…
FREE CORKY NOW!