For more than 2 solid hours, each delegation was announced over the loudspeakers as their respective delegates proudly marched toward their seat under the 95 degree Orlando sun. While many delegations had impressive representation, Jamaica's 1 individual representative stood out to this writer as the delegate enthusiastically waved to the stands immediately commanding the respect of all in attendance. Jamaica's delegate seemed unphased despite walking in by himself (but it such a powerful statement that one single person's bravery could still compete with the likes of thousands of others... good for you Jamaica!) The host state Florida had a massive delegation of 607 supporters, and the crowd in the stands warmly showered them with supportive applause.
Some unannounced surprises came in the form of who was walking in with the respective states. Super-popular football personality Tim Tebow was making the rounds on the field, initially walking in with Connecticut's delegation, but as other delegations poured in from various entry points elsewhere on the field, Tebow would quickly make his way to join another delegation and escort them in. Alongside Tebow for Connecticut were several wrestlers from NXT, some donning their championship wrestling belts draped across their waists.
Texas also came in with 2 celebrity supporters: wrestling superstar The Undertaker and his wife (fellow wrestling superstar Michelle McCool) blended in with the proud Texas delegation (with Undertaker even wearing one of the matching uniform grey polos), many of whose delegates had cell phones pointed at the stands upon walking in, so as to record and capture every single memorable moment of the procession.
With several Special Olympics ambassadors noticeably absent, pre-recorded video greetings from several celebrities was played on the jumbo-tron of Exploria, featuring personalities such as Michael Strahan, Larry 'The Cable Guy', Meghan Trainor, Tiffany Haddish, and Jodi Benson. Coaches and players also followed the words on the big-screen as both groups audibly recited their respective Special Olympics oaths.
A dance number featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and a grand finale from musician Sara Bareilles brought the opening ceremony events to an end, with the festivities being broadcast on ESPN.
Special Olympics 2022 USA Games will continue June 6 - 10, with Closing Ceremonies taking place Saturday June 11.