Olympic torch relay crosses P.E.I. SaturdayEDITORIAL STAFF
Islanders are getting ready to celebrate as the Olympic flame comes to the province this weekend as part an epic cross-Canada torch relay leading up to the Vancouver Winter Games in February.
The 2010 Olympic torch relay will cross much of the province and major parties are planned in Stratford, Charlottetown and Summerside which were selected as Olympic Torch Communities.
The 2010 Olympic torch relay began in Victoria, B.C., Oct. 30, kicking off a national 45,000-km, 106-day event. The torch then made its way to the Far North, and then Newfoundland before landing in Nova Scotia on Monday.
The torch will cross to Wood Islands, P.E.I., on Northumberland Ferries early Saturday and then be carried by relay runners to Stratford. Each runner will carry the torch for 300 metres.
While here, the run will involve more than 250 torchbearers and visit 26 communities, including the Lennox Island Mi’kmaq First Nations community. The Olympic flame will travel 320 kilometres by land and water on P.E.I. and will be within a one-hour drive of 99 per cent of P.E.I.’s population.
The flame comes first to Stratford where the town has events planned for Saturday afternoon before it comes across the Hillsborough Bridge to Charlottetown.
Stratford will celebrate the arrival of the flame with a pancake breakfast at Stratford Town Centre from 8-11 a.m. Cost is $5 per person and will be hosted by the Stratford Lions Club.
Olympians Kara Grant and Michael Morris will be on hand to help celebrate with fellow residents.
The Stratford arts and culture committee, in partnership with Glen Stewart School, have provided the students of Glen Stewart School the opportunity to create their own Olympic torch. The students spent the afternoon of Nov. 5 with local artist Ayelet Stewart who offered guidance to the students in creating their own torches from reclaimed materials.
The students’ torches will be on display at the Stratford Town Centre from Nov. 14-21 for public viewing.
The Olympic torch is expected to arrive in Stratford at approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Everywhere you look in Charlottetown, excitement is building for the arrival of the Olympic flame and everyone is invited to come out and cheer it on its journey to Vancouver,” said Wayne Long, events development officer for the City of Charlottetown.
“On Saturday, November 21, we’re expecting thousands to turn out for this emotional once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Olympic flame in person right here in our city.”
The torch relay will arrive at approximately 6 p.m. as part of a convoy of vehicles, which will include torchbearer shuttles, media vehicles, relay support vehicles and police cruisers.
Temporary rolling road closures will ensure the safety of the torchbearers and spectators lining the relay route. The crowd will see a new torchbearer carry the flame every 300 metres through the community as it travels on its 45,000-kilometre-long journey across Canada — the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history.
To celebrate the arrival of the flame, the community is planning a diverse celebration with entertainment planned to celebrate the day as an Olympic city.
The community celebration will take place at Confederation Landing Park from 6-8 p.m. and will feature an array of live performances including Mi’kmaq Thunder, Richard Wood, Mario Robichaud, Ra On Ze Na, John Connolly, Sgt. Kim Hendricken, Confederation Centre of the Arts Children’s Youth Choir, The Count and the Cuban Cocktail, Devin Casario & the Illusion, and Vancouver Olympic Winter Games mascots Quachi and Migo.
In Summerside, Credit Union Place will host the community celebration.
“We worked on it for 16 months,” said Katy Baker of the torch relay task force. “It’s very exciting to be picked as a celebration site. Summerside is a town that loves its sports and its athletes and we’re going to embrace the torch with the same enthusiasm as the Olympics.”
The last time the torch relay came to the Island was in November 1987, prior to the Calgary Olympics the following year.
For this year’s relay, torchbearers were selected randomly from across the Island by sponsors RBC and Coca Cola.
Before the torch hits Summerside, other Prince County stops include Kensington, Lennox Island, Abram-Village and Wellington.
Summerside’s two-time Olympian Heather Moyse will carry it onto the grounds of Credit Union Place for the community celebration.
Since many local residents will be running their 300 metres with the torch, Baker advised staking out a good spot in the city to watch the relay since there will be high levels of security around the event.
“The celebrations will all build to a moment when Heather gets onstage with the torch to light the cauldron,” said Baker.
“It will be quite a parade and there will be massive amounts of vehicles following the relay. Athena School’s parking lot would be a good place to watch it, or the baseball fields on Granville Street but, like any parade, there are lots of places along the route to gather.”
When the Summerside party ends, the torch will travel to Borden-Carleton and across the Confederation Bridge to begin its New Brunswick trek.