Chicago, IL -
Thousands of spectators filled Wrigley Field
as Chicago said an emotional goodbye to the seventh Gay Games. Mayor Richard Daley officially closed the Games with the ceremonial transfer of the Gay Games flag to the deputy mayor of Cologne, Germany, the 2010 host city.
The colorful closing included more celebrity and less politics.
The alternative rock group Betty opened the ceremony with the National Anthem.
Sharon McNight, who performed at the very first Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982, sang two numbers including "Stand by Your Man."
The crowd rose to their feet for Chicago's Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps and the DC Cowboys dance company.
Everyone was standing when Cyndi Lauper, wearing a beautiful dress inspired by a gay pride flag and appearing as the Statue of Liberty, sang moving renditions of her classics "True Colors" and "Shine."
"Stand proud!" she said to the energetic crowd. "Stand together."
The celebrity-packed entertainment also included Ari Gold, Kristine W (interview
), Ant, Jason & deMarco, and more.
Though today's ceremonies marked the final day of the eight days of competition, Friday was the last full day of competition for the Gay Games. Nearly 12,000 athletes from 65 countries participated in the week long event.
Temperatures for the closing ceremony cooled considerably since the opening ceremony at Soldier Field
. Athletes and participants struggled throughout the week with the excessive heat.
Chicago was selected as the host city after Montreal dropped the Gay Games in a disagreement with the Federation of Gay Games. Montreal created their own event, Out Games, with opening ceremonies on July 29, 2006.
Chicago organizers collected more corporate support then previous Games making the Gay Games VII one of the most successful.
The Gay Games are estimated to have generated an 80 million dollar impact on the local economy.
Cologne’s Deputy Mayor, Eli Scho-Antwerpes, closed by inviting the world to Germany in 2010.Photo: Cyndi Lauper performs during the Game Games VII Closing Saturday at Chicago's Wrigley Field. (by: Ryan Kolodziej, ChicagoPride.com Staff Photographer)See more photos
from the Gay Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies in the photo gallery
.Read PJ's review
of the Gay Games Closing Ceremonies