What a night! The Olympic Torch has come and gone, yet all day there seemed to be the lingering sense of its magic. I watched the flame leave town burning in a cauldron on the back of a special CPR passenger train early Wednesday morning and while there was nothing like Tuesday night’s amazing crowd downtown, there were perhaps a couple of dozen enthusiastic people who donned warm clothes then scraped their vehicle windows and drove to the Railway Museum to view its departure.
Among the people on hand were the last three local people to carrying the high-tech torch through Revelstoke. Lynne Welock and Annie Woodhurst were almost speechless having handed off one to the other by the Sears store that morning . That moment was a profound one for the two friends and running buddies. It connected them in a new way and, for Woodhurst, gave a her sense of fulfillment. “It was like a piece of the puzzle fell into place,” she said.
For Neills Kristensen, the opportunity to carry the torch for 300 metres was a complete surprise. He had been put in a waiting list last fall after he applied. You might, he was told, be asked to fill in for someone who had to drop out. Well, that happened and his eyes fairly glowed with excitement afterwards.
“I still can’t believe it — my family can’t believe it,” said Kristensen, who was also a member of the local Torch Relay Committee. But I’ll bet he believes it now if only because of the attention he has since received.
As the train bearing the torch dwindled into the West, Kristensen had invited me and several other people to join him for breakfast at the Powder Springs Hotel. Well, Neills hadn’t even finished his hash browns when people began asking him if they could hold the torch, show them his uniform, pose with them, with the torch, yada yada yada… you get the idea. I’m sure the rest of his day was not dissimilar from that.
While the experiences of other torch bearers is probably not too different from Kristensen’s, what needs to be said today is that all of Revelstoke performed extremely well on Tuesday.
From the RSS Senior Band to Sharon Shook, the Community Choir and Sister Girl and all of the local Torchbearers who carried the flame through city streets to former Olympians John McInnes and Roger Eddy who toured local schools talking about the importance of the Olympics and their ideals, the people of Revelstoke came out and made this unique opportunity an event we will carry with us for years to come.
I especially liked the lantern parade organized by Jacquie Pendergast and Tina Lindegaard of the Visual Arts Centre. I think it added a nice, homey touch to what otherwise looked to be another corporate-style media hyper-event. The kids and teachers (Yes, Laurel Russell, I’m talking about you!) who painted the lanterns did a fantastic job and they all deserve our thanks for their creativity and originality.
We might not have been able to get 10,000 or 12,000 or 20,000 people out for our local celebration (Hey! We don’t even have 8,500 people!) but we actually did even better than that. With somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 people jammed into the downtown core we managed to get about 45-50 per cent of our population out to celebrate the one aspect of the 2010 Games that is truly about ordinary people.
Be proud, Revelstoke. You were great.