Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Olympic Torch Relay: Part I

When Calgary held the Olympics in 1988, I was only 4 years old and was not fortunate enough to partake in the Olympic torch relay. Actually, the only memory that I have about the '88 Calgary Olympics is a drive around downtown with my mom and dad in our old grey Dodge Ram Van. I remember being strapped into the car seat and staring at the flame atop the Calgary Tower in amazement. Last night, the torch made it's way back to Calgary after a 22 year absence and I finally got my chance to participate in the excitement!

And it actually was really exciting! After checking out the route map online I figured a good spot to check out the torch along its route would be on 17th ave. by the Mount Royal shopping block. People were lined up along the busy street as far as the eye could see and everyone was buzzing in anticipation to see the torch pass by. As we stood waiting, a Vancouver 2010 bus stopped directly in front of us. To our surprise, a tall, slender, blonde girl dressed in all white stepped off the bus carrying a unlit torch in hand. What a great coincidence that the torch is to be passed directly in front of where we were standing! The girl's name was Emily and she was kinda cute and good spirited even though her arm was in a sling; poor gal. Soon after, the torch arrived in hand of an older gentleman named Bill, or maybe Bob. The guy looked like he was 70 and could beat me in a foot race! The crowd was going nuts! And just like that, the torch was passed and gone in what seemed like the snap of a finger.

Once we calmed ourselves down with two hits of Valium each, we started our walk to the Olympic Plaza to catch the lighting of the cauldron. We took our sweet time, walking under the moonlight, expecting the torch to take a while. Once we got to 9th ave., a stage of the torch route, we were seeing the rolling police traffic stops arriving. To our surprise, the torch was only 5 blocks back! We had to get a move on if we wanted to beat the torch to the plaza, so we started to run along 9th and Stephen ave. from 5th st. to McLeod tr. Am I the only one who appreciates the irony? We got to the plaza in time and found it to be packed. Supposedly, 20,000 Calgarians filled the plaza last night, which was great to see. Citizens of Calgary rarely get behind anything other then the Stampede or the Flames. As the torch approached, the cheering got louder. Car horns were honking, tambourines were jingling and voices were cheering! The torch approached the stage and as the barer lit the cauldron, the crowd erupted and was greeted with a short firework show. It was a pretty great event that I am proud to have experienced.

After the spectacle we headed back to the cars, but not without taking a few more pictures of the crowd and beautiful street scene down Stephen Avenue.

Click the jump to check out more in the photo stream

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