It’s almost time to show your Olympic spirit, Chilliwack.
And your infinite patience.
When the flame and its accompanying convoy roll into town this afternoon, it will be the 101st day of the 2010 Winter Olympics Torch Relay.
Parking space around the Community Celebration site behind the Leisure Centre will be at an absolute premium on Feb. 7. Walking to the site is a good idea, if possible.
Organizers have also been gently warning that a “security envelope” will be very tight around the torchbearer and the flame, and there could be traffic interruptions as the long-awaited relay finally chugs into Chilliwack.
Spectators are being asked to keep the road clear. But the idea is to have the biggest party Chilliwack has ever seen.
Former city councillor Dorothy Kostrzewa, 81, was thrilled to be chosen as one of 80 torchbearers passing through Chilliwack and Rosedale — even if she’s about to go in for hip surgery. No problem, she figured. She’ll simply be carrying the torch while riding in a motorcycle driven by city councillor Chuck Stam.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Kostrzewa said, adding that she still doesn’t know who nominated her for the privilege. “Things should be at a standstill right now, but this is the icing on the cake.”
Crowds are expected to form along the length of the Torch Relay route, which begins on Yale Road east in Rosedale and travels west until it hits Five Corners. Then it turns down Young Road, winds around downtown and eventually heads along Spadina Avenue, to Ashwell Road before turning into the parking lot behind the pool. Map out the exact route at www.vancouver2010.com/torchrelay.
Chilliwack resident Dave Stephen is gearing up to be an Olympic torchbearer for the second time in his life. He also carried the torch near Hope for the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
“I feel very lucky,” he said. “The flame means hope. It’s emblematic as a symbol and it really resonates with people.”
To get ready for the 2010 Torch Relay, he’s been running in the dark with a large flashlight to get used to the sensation of carrying the torch aloft.
“I think I spooked some people on a few occasions,” he said with a laugh.
The fluttery feeling of anticipation is just starting to kick in.
“It’s exciting to imagine carrying the torch along with 12,000 others across Canada,” he said. “I am thrilled to represent Chilliwack.”
Torch Celebration committee chair Pat Clark said she’s been extremely impressed with the community’s torchbearers and the connections they’re making.
“It’s a huge honour and it’s their moment to represent Canada and their community,” she said. “What I’ve come to learn is that the torchbearers all feel connected to the thousands who’ve come before them.
“This event is bigger than the sum of its parts.”
Find out more:
Follow the Olympic Torch Relay as it travels British Columbia. Here’s the link to CTV’s live video feed