They came from 165 countries to form one glorious movement in the LA Coliseum.
There were plenty of movie stars and politicians, performances from Stevie Wonder and Nicola Scherzinger, speeches from Eva Longoria and the Kennedy descendants and even a video message from President Barack Obama.
But the red carpet was firmly reserved for the real stars: the almost 7,000 athletes.
At the beginning of the show, US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel joked about California's long drought, saying he hoped they brought water.
"That Olympic flame they're going to light will truly burn forever because we don't have the water to put it out," Kimmel said.
It would be nearly three hours before the flame would be lit under instruction from Michelle Obama who told he crowd: "My husband and I, we are so proud of you, so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts."
Sticking with Olympic tradition Greece were the first country to parade through the stadium and find their place in the centre of the pitch.
Then came five Afghani athletes, followed by Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia...Iran, Iraq and finally over an hour after the procession began Team Ireland.
You didn't need to know their names, you didn't need to know what county they were from, you didn't need to know their sport. All you needed to door was look at their faces.
Everybody should have a moment in their life when their face widens to the point of aching, the pain of the stretch marks on their cheeks only adding to the sensation.
Waving hysterically the 88 Irish, led by Colin Farrell, Claudine Keane and John Treacy, took their moment, made more than the most of it and packaged it away in that part of your heart where things can never be forgotten.
"I feel like I'm in heaven," Donal O'Mahoney from Wicklow told independent.ie.
And he wasn't alone.
The games were the brainchild of President John Kennedy's sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who held informal backyard competitions at her home before deciding to take the competition international in 1968.
Her daughter Maria Shriver, addressed the audience, saying: "She was so proud of you and wanted more than anything for you to be respected, valued, appreciated for who you are. Brave, good, kind, solid, and yes, smart human beings."
And then Stevie Wonder arrived on stage.
"You are the ones that will make a difference every single day. Your courage, your desire to make the world better..." he mused before performing 'Fear can't put dreams to sleep'.
The official anthem of this year's Games is 'Reach Up LA' by singer/songwriter Siedah Garret who says she thought about what the athletes would want people watching them to think about.
'I wanted to give power to those words and that expression. It's so amazing watching them do what they do. They have such a can-do attitude. This athletic opportunity shows them "Yes, you can" and they have," she said.