Go Flame Go!
We were in Lethbridge yesterday to help welcome the Olympic torch run to southern Alberta. We could have seen the flame and the torch bearers in any number of communities. It is actually in Calgary today for a three-day event before it heads west.
We met friends – Adrian and Val Cooke, and son Elliott, in Lethbridge, to mark the anniversary of when we stood together with them, 22 years earlier, to welcome the Olympic torch to Calgary just prior to the opening of the 1988 Olympics. Val’s sister and brother-in-law Wendy and George were also with us.
I’m not even a big sports fan, but there is something patriotic or important about marking these events that only come along once or twice in your lifetime – sort of like lining up to see the Queen, or The Pope, or seeing Tina Turner in concert during her farewell tour.
The nice thing about seeing the torch in Lethbridge is that it isn’t the huge logistic issue it would be in Calgary. We had a late lunch, and then about 20 minutes before the flame was suppose to arrive, we drove downtown, parked the car, walked over to the CP Rail line, near where the old brewery used to be and waited a few minutes. It would have been a two-hour production in Calgary.
The torch was entering the city from the west side. Hundreds were lined up along the tracks, but there was plenty of room. Four employees of CP Rail pumped the torch into the city on a hand car across the mile-long High Level Bridge. It stopped about 20 feet from where we were standing on the east side of the bridge.
A bubbling Chantelle Dubois Nishiyama, was the first torch bearer (see photo) to light the torch off the caldron on the hand car and begin her run through the city. She is a rail traffic controller with CP in Calgary, a graduate of the University of Lethbridge, a private pilot and a downhill skier.
She was just beaming at the opportunity to make this run. It will likely be the highlight of her year. So that was the torch entering the city. We went back to the Cooke’s house for hot chocolate and then a couple hours later went over to Henderson Lake where a few thousand had gathered for closing torch ceremonies and fireworks.
It was great to be part of the whole celebration, but part of it too was thinking where the past 22 years had gone. The kids, who were in strollers in 1988 have grown up, some are out doing their own baby thing. Some of the adults have got a little older, gained a little weight, and are even retired.
Probably, the scarier thing is to think about where we will be 22 years from now. I will be 80. If the Olympic torch run sticks with the current time table. I told my wife, I probably won’t feel like standing on a CP rail track in 2032. Hopefully we have a senior’s apartment somewhere, and she can just roll me over to the balcony, and wake up in time to see the torch jog by. That will be good enough.
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