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Friday, February 12, 2010 Peace Arch News

A crowd eagerly awaits the torch near Semiahmoo Centre.

Community alight with Olympic spirit


he Peninsula was ignited with Olympic spirit this week, as the awe-inspiring Olympic Torch Relay made its way through South Surrey and White Rock Tuesday morning. It was still dark out when the crowds began to gather at various locations throughout the community – but the early wake-up call did nothing to dampen the excitement of the thousands of residents who came out to cheer on the flame. After the lighting of the community cauldron at Holland Park the night before, in front of tens of thousands of supporters, the flame was transported to Highway 99 and 152 Street in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The first crowd to catch a glimpse of the torch was gathered at South Point, where the day’s journey began at 6:12 a.m. Hundreds of spectators lined the street – many of them local elementary students with their families – and the anticipation grew as the flame stood stationary for a few minutes while final preparations were made. Bright corporate sponsor trucks – complete with booming sound systems, flashing lights and energetic dancers – made their way down the torch route to

Brian Giebelhaus photos

The Olympic flame is passed between torchbearers in front of White Rock Museum and Archives Tuesday morning. Below, the flame is celebrated at Peace Arch Park with U.S. torchbearer Phil Mahre. get the crowds even more pumped up for the flame’s arrival. Gurwant Singh was the first lucky torchbearer of the morning, heading south on 152, past the smiling crowds cheering him on. Further down the line towards Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, several hundred spectators adorned in red and

waving Canadian flags, eagerly awaited the torch’s arrival. Chants of “Canada! Canada!” carried through the crowd, as the torch crossed into White Rock, made its way down Johnston Road and headed east on Roper Avenue. Marine Drive was crammed with people hoping to get a glimpse of the

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Claus Eisenschmid photo

torch, which made a brief stop in front of White Rock Museum and Archives, where Mayor Catherine Ferguson and MP Russ Hiebert were on hand to lead the crowd in an impromptu version of O Canada. The excitement hit a fever pitch as the torch arrived at its final stop on the Peninsula, Peace Arch Park at 7:30 a.m., where B.C., Washington and First Nations dignitaries were on hand to join in the celebrations. After introductions and the singing of the Coast Salish national anthem, the Semiahmoo First Nation performed a Fire Keepers ceremony, as Premier Gordon Campbell and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire looked on. Torchbearer Rayne Williams then passed the flame to U.S. torchbearer, former Olympian Phil Mahre, who took the flame onto U.S. soil for the first time during its 103-day relay. Once the flame was back in Canada, torchbearer Chamila Anthonypillai, along with Campbell and Gregoire, lit the cauldron onstage. The Peace Arch Park event was wrapped up with both the Canadian and U.S. anthems, and speeches by Campbell, Gregoire and VANOC CEO

John Furlong. The torch then made its way to North Delta, where it continued the rest of its journey which included stops in New Westminster, Tsawwassen and Ladner. The final stop of the day was in Richmond, where thousands gathered to cheer on the Man in Motion himself, Rick Hansen, who lit the community cauldron at the city’s official celebration site, called the O Zone.

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Fri February 12 2010 PAN  

Complete February 12, 2010 issue of the Peace Arch News newspaper as it appeared in print. For more online, all the time, see www.peacearchn...

Fri February 12 2010 PAN  

Complete February 12, 2010 issue of the Peace Arch News newspaper as it appeared in print. For more online, all the time, see www.peacearchn...