Nevada Appeal at 150: Olympic Games open with heavy Sierra snowstorm | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Appeal at 150: Olympic Games open with heavy Sierra snowstorm

The United States officially opened its first Winter Olympic Games in 28 years today with a Hollywood-produced spectacle which lured some 20,000 spectators to scenic, snow-coated Squaw Valley.

A snowstorm which started early this morning kept many persons who had planned to attend away because of snarled traffic conditions.

Vice President Richard Nixon, who officially declared the VIII Olympiad open at 1:45 p.m., was delayed in arrival, but made it in time to perform his ceremonial task.

Trim, colorfully-clad athletes from 30 nations marched in review before Nixon, 2,000 homing pigeons fluttered skyward, the Olympic flame was lighted, and the VIII Winter Olympiad was declared open for the 10 days of skiing and skating.

Walt Disney planned the program, and it matched any screen colossal.

Mrs. Andrea Mead Lawrence of the U.S., a two-time gold medal skiing winner in 1952, raced down Papoose Peak with the flame. At the speed rink, she handed the torch to Keny Henry of Chicago, and the huge crowd sat silent as he glided once around the rink, then lighted the permanent flame on the 12-foot-high tripod before the tower.

Then, as more than 3,900 high school bandsmen and singers performed the U.S. national anthem, Disney took over with a daytime fireworks show in which were released flag-parachutes of Olympic flags. Also released were some 20,000 multi-colored balloons.

The U.S. is host to an Olympics for the first time since 1932, when it staged both the winter games at Lake Placid, N.Y., and the summer games at Los Angeles.