What a night! Revelstoke celebrates the Olympic Torch Relay

By Karen McColl and David F. Rooney

Revelstoke’s Olympic Torch Relay festivities were a celebration to be proud of.

Organizers had hoped at least 2,000 people would attend the party downtown. They were ecstatic when a human sea of 4,000 men, women and children literally jammed Mackenzie Avenue

“It totally exceeded expectations,” said Neills Kristensen, Torch Relay Committee member and executive director of the Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier.

Activities got underway at 4 pm with booths and merchandise set up by the Revelstoke Skating Club, the Nordic Club, Friends of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier, Parks Canada, official Torch Relay sponsors Coca Cola and the Royal Bank and more.

The Parks Canada booth, shared with the Revelstoke Museum, was particularly lively and offered opportunities to pose as ski jumpers, mingle with the historical characters of Nels Nelson and Isabel Coursier, and learn about the history of ski jumping at Mount Revelstoke.

Of course the highlight of the evening was the torch relay itself, and especially the final leg, when former Olympian John McInnes handed the torch to young Lachlan Hicks.  The teenager carried the torch between two lines of hand-painted paper lanters borne by children along the final 300 metres of roadway to the stage at Mackenzie and Second Street where he lit the Olympic Cauldron to applause and cheers.

Hicks was very excited but never lost his composure even when he was paraded in front of the news media.

“I just hope this will inspire other young people,” he said.

While Hicks had been selected months ago to be the final torch bearer, two-time former Olympian John McInnes, North Columbia Environmental Society President Sarah Newton, and high school student Brittany Evans only found out late Tuesday afternoon that they would be taking part in the relay.

Evans’ mom interrupted her at basketball practice to give her the exciting news.

“It was fantastic,” she said after the event. “I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.  I’m never going to forget that moment.”

The evening was also lit up by lively performances given on the main stage by the Revelstoke Community choir and later by the local music group Sister Girl.

A short yet spectacular firework show at 8 pm drew the official fun and festivities to a close, although many people repaired to local restaurants and bars for a bite to eat and drink.

The torch relay continues west Wednesday morning.

Video of the event will be posted on The Current. In the meantime here are images of the event, from start to finish:

With road access to the downtown core blocked off as of 1 am on Tuesday, Torch Relay crews began setting up the main stage at about mid-morning. David F. Rooney photo
It didn't take them long to begin putting the main stage together at the intersection of Mackenzie Avenue and Second Street. David F. Rooney photo
The celebration of the Torch Relay brought out all kinds of people, like City Councillor Steve Bender, who was enthralled by the opportunity to pretend he was a high-flying ski jumper at the Parks Canada booth at the Grizzly Plaza bandstand. David F. Rooney photo
Former Olympian Roger Eddy poses with some children by the Parks Canada booth as their parents take pictures. David F. Rooney photo
Marilee Planden and Museum Curator Cathy English put together a great display for historical artifacts at the bandstand. David F. Rooney photo
Tim Boaz watches a video of historic moments in local winter sports at the Parks Canada booth. David F. Rooney photo
The local Torch Relay Committee asked local school children to build snow sculptures with an Olympic theme and did they ever produce! Sculptures included Olympic mascots, an Olympic Cauldron complete with frozen flames and a torchbearer. David F. Rooney photo
Angela Waterson, volunteer firefighter Randy Driediger and Gary Pendergast gaze upon the waiting stage about an hour before the official celebration was set to begin at 5:30 pm. Little did they know how many people would turn out for the event. David F. Rooney photo
Members of the Rocky Mountain Rangers pose in front of the stage. David F. Rooney photo
Ooo! Save me! Save me! Olympic Mascot Quatchi cowers behind a spindly tree after a dog outside Malone's went berserk at the sight of him. David F. Rooney photo
With the excited dog calmed down Quatchi and fellow mascot Miga went back to doing what they do best: posing with children. David F. Rooney photo
For some reason young children just seem to want to hug the warm and fuzzy mascots. David F. Rooney photo
A cameraman (left) waits for a CTV reporter to mentally compose his report on the festivities in Revelstoke. David F. Rooney photo
It was a perfect night for the celebration: clear and crisp. David F. Rooney photo
Arrow Heights Elementary students work on their snow sculpture of Quatchi and Miga. David F. Rooney photo
Columbia Park Elementary Principal Shan Jorgenson-Adam carefully writes on the rim of the Olympic Cauldron her school's children made of snow. David F. Rooney photo
Mayor David Raven (left) talks with Al McKinnon and Roger Eddy at the Parks Canada booth. David F. Rooney photo
A dad takes pictures as his wife steadies their toddler on the mock ski jump at the Parks Canada booth. David F. Rooney photo
Ez Rock DJ Steve Smith comforts a fan. David F. Rooney photo
Quatchi: the finished sculpture. David F. Rooney photo
Mount Begbie Elementary Principal Rob Wilson and his students work to complete their torchbearer sculpture. David F. Rooney photo
Members of area First Nations address the crowd near the main stage during the opening of the official portion of the celebration. David F. Rooney photo
Bud Stovel poses with Parks Canada's Alice Weber, dressed as record-setting ski jumper Isabel Coursier, at the Parks Canada booth. Karen McColl photo
Brian Gawiuk tries his luck at ski jumping. Karen McColl photo
Paula Couturier distrubutes the Ski Jump News with the help of local ski jumping legends Isabel Coursier (Alice Weber) and Nels Nelsen (Daryl Ross). Karen McColl photo
Chris and Ashley Tait take a fantasy flight at Grizzly Plaza. Karen McColl photo
Torchbearers in Tuesday's leg of the relay in Revelstoke pose in their official uniforms and bright red mittens. Can you spot the local runners? Karen McColl photo.
The finished torchbearer snow sculpture. Karen McColl photo
Jacolyn Daniluck of Parks Canada chats with 1968 Luge Olympian Roger Eddy. Karen McColl photo
The Revelstoke Secondary School Senior Band, conducted by Tessa Davis, was one of the local acts that was extremely well-received during the Torch Relay celebration. David F. Rooney photo
By about 6 pm Mackenzie Avenue was beginning to fill with partiers. David F. Rooney photo
Ready to party? Nadine Smith and her son and friend Myrna Robinson were ready to give it a go. David F. Rooney photo
The steps of City Hall were blanketed by people looking for the very best vantage point from which to observe the festivities. David F. Rooney photo
Local fireighters, tasked with helping out on crowd control, pose for a photo. David F. Rooney photo
Artist Fritz Branschat whips off a painting as it rotates before him. At the end of the artistic stunt, backed by Torch Relay sponsor Royal Bank of Canada, he presented the completed painting to the City of Revelstoke. David F. Rooney photo
Need a boost up? A man hoists a child so he can see over the crowd in front of them. David F. Rooney photo
Acrobats perform during the entertainment sponsored by Coca Cola. David F. Rooney photo
Giant red balls are bounced through the air by the crowd after they were released from the stage. David F. Rooney photo
The balls went bouncing off down Mackenzie Avenue... never to be seen again. David F. Rooney photo
The irrepressible Laurel Russell shakes her lantern as she waits for the arrival of Torchbearer Lachlan Hicks. David F. Rooney photo
A skyrockets explodes in the darkness signalling the arrival of the last torchbearer. David F. Rooney photo
Final Torchbearer Lachlan Hicks (left) lights his torch from the flame on former Olympian John McInnes' torch. Karen McColl photo
Lachlan Hicks pauses for photos by the media ad onlookers cheer wildly. David F. Rooney photo
Smiling broadly Lachlan Hicks proceeds through the throng towards the stage. David F. Rooney photo
Laurel Russell cheers as Lachlan Hicks passes her. David F. Rooney photo
By the time the final torchbearer arrived about 4,000 people were jammed into Mackenzie Avenue. David F. Rooney photo
Mayor David Raven accepts a memento for City Hall: an official Olympic Torch. This image was taken from the giant screen erected beside the stage. David F. Rooney photo
Videographer Brent Veideman captures the celebration on his steadi-cam. David F. Rooney photo
Former Olympians Roger Eddy and John McInnes pose for the camera. Karen McColl photo
The Community Choice performed beautifully during the ceremony. David F. Rooney photo
You can see the pleasure and the excitement on their faces as they wave to the crowd. David F. Rooney photo
Final Torchbearer Lachlan Hicks watches the final moments of the celebration with his parent, Prue and Todd Hicks. Prue and Todd were extremely proud of their son. David F. Rooney photo
Former Mayor Mark McKee introduces Sister Girl. David F. Rooney photo
This was a big moment for local band Sister Girl, which performed for 20 minutes at the festivities. David F. Rooney photo
Oh my! Fireworks! Skyrockets and other pyrotechnics that had been purchased for last summer's Homecoming but never fired off due to the forest fire threat were finally released into the night sky by Fire Department personnel at the conclusion of the Torch Relay ceremony. It was a fitting — and explosive — finale to an amazing celebration. Karen McColl photo
And at the end what else was there to do but warm up and chow down as Torchbearer Sarah Newton did with her husband Rory Luxmoore and their children. David F. Rooney photo
And if you wanted something livelier than a coffee and a bite to eat at the Modern or Conversations you could always catch a band like Cornstar at the Last Drop (shown here), Sly Violet at the Village Idiot or grab a beer and a burger at the River City Pub. Hundreds of people did just that. David F. Rooney photo