By Zjan Shirinian

A series of performances led to the unveiling of the Toronto 2015 countdown clock ©City of Toronto/TwitterA countdown clock with a difference has been unveiled for the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan Games at the start of a two-day festival celebrating a year to go.

The clock in Nathan Phillips Square is decorated in the colourful pictograms for the Games.

A ceremony in the Square today ahead of the unveiling included a Department of National Defense Griffin helicopter fly-over and a performance from Cirque du Soleil.

Cisco, the Official Information and Communications Technology Partner, joined Toronto 2015 chiefs to unveil the clock, a day after the one-year-to-go countdown officially began.

"We're excited to bring the Cisco Toronto 2015 countdown clock to the heart of downtown Toronto - the first of its kind in the world - and it will be an important landmark for local residents and visitors alike to announce the Games are quickly approaching," said Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco Canada.

"But this is more than just a clock.

"It's a social portal, enabled by the 'Internet of Everything.'"

The clock features an interactive touch-screen kiosk that gives visitors access to comprehensive information about the Games.

People can also take a picture of themselves using the kiosk's photo app, download it with their smartphone, and email it or share it via social media.

The clock, pictured here being made, weighs 7,257kg including its base ©Toronto 2015The clock, pictured here being made, weighs 7,257kg including its base ©Toronto 2015

"As we come together to celebrate our one-year countdown, it's wonderful that our partner Cisco is giving Toronto this incredible new landmark so that everyone who visits Nathan Phillips Square can share in the excitement and feel connected to the Toronto 2015 Games," said Saaed Rafi, chief executive of Toronto 2015.

The 5.5 metre tall two-part structure, weighing 7,257 kilograms including its base, was "woken" from its slumber by a team of Cirque du Soleil stilt acrobats, Brazilian drummers and breakdancers as two BMX cyclists did tricks around the structure.

It will count down the days and minutes to the start of the Pan Am Games on July 10, 2015, and the Parapan Am Games on August 7, 2015.

The ceremony acted as the official kick-off to two days of free sport and music festivities

Musical acts celebrating the countdown to Toronto 2015 include Burlington rock band Walk off the Earth, Trinidadian soca star Machel Montano and Cuban salsa giants Los Van Van.

A full schedule of events is available here.

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