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
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
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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