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Closing ceremonies were right in groove with one exception

SHARE Closing ceremonies were right in groove with one exception

Isn't Kristi Yamaguchi a cute rocker chick?

How 'bout that Katarina Witt?

Those two rocked it out on the ice when KISS hit the stage during the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games, right here in Salt Lake City. And, contrary to what some concerned citizens expected, nothing evil happened.

When it was announced that KISS would play at the party, some Utahns went on record as saying the grease-painted, glam-rock band was satanic and didn't reflect Utah values. Well, there weren't any animal sacrifices Sunday night, and no one was struck down by lighting. Heck, even Gene Simmons refrained from blowing fire all over the audience.

The guys in KISS just wanted to show the world how to "Rock and Roll All Nite." And they did. The only questionable element is it wasn't drummer Peter Criss wearing the cat makeup. It was Eric Singer, a third-generation KISS drummer. (Singer replaced the late Eric Carr, who, in turn, replaced Criss the first time he left the band. And Singer returned after KISS founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley cut ties with Criss . . . again.)

But that aside, KISS' appearance in the closing ceremonies wasn't as eyebrow raising as what Christina Aguilera was wearing. My gosh, she must have been cold. With the staple-exposed midriff and those low slung leather chaps, it was a wonder Aguilera didn't get frostbite in some embarrassing places.

It did look like she was dancing to keep from succumbing to hypothermia. Although she tried to heat up the stage, Aguilera's song "Infatuation" was one of the low points of the evening. The energy just took a dive and the audience was slow to give her applause.

The high point? Everything else.

From Dianne Reeves' "Fascinating Rhythm," with visuals by skater Kurt Browning, to Harry Connick Jr.'s beautiful rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," accompanied by the grace of Dorothy Hamill — and the skate/dance duet of Ilia Kulick and Savion Glover — the festival was an extraordinary display of life, music and dance.

Moby and Angie Stone, Willie Nelson; Earth Wind & Fire; Bon Jovi and Gloria Estefan — who made her third Olympic appearance Sunday — were right in the groove. And so were Donny and Marie Osmond, doing "We Are Family."

Emile Grande (Italy's Babs Streisand) and Enissa (Italy's Madonna) introduced the world to the land of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where the next Winter Games will take place.

Water filled the eyes as Utah's own Laura Garff Lewis (of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah Opera) sang the Olympic hymn as the Olympic flag was lowered. And tears really flowed freely when young prodigy singers Josh Groban and Charlotte Church offered a duet of the beautiful "Olympic Prayer," as the caldron's flame flickered and died.

The 19th Winter Olympic Games have come to a close, but it shouldn't be a sad ending. Instead, we should all take heed of what the children sang during the night — "Happy trails to you, 'til we meet again."

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com