Skydivers parachuting in from above, top regional musical performers, giant puppets, a dazzling light show, foot stomping Acadian fiddlin’, towering snow and ice sculptures, a huge tepee, as well as a kazoo band: that is just a sampling of the unique local flavour almost 200 torch relay celebration communities plan on showcasing when they welcome the Olympic Flame and potentially the world to their part of the country.
Communities in all regions are readying themselves to become an “Olympic Town” for the day when the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay makes its historic 45,000 kilometre journey across Canada from coast to coast to coast starting October 30.
“Our goal with these celebrations has always been to bring the magic and excitement of the Olympic spirit home to millions of Canadians no matter where they live and truly make these Canada’s games,” said John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). “Our celebration communities are so excited to welcome the Olympic flame and they’ve planned some truly memorable and inspirational entertainment for the crowds.”
One of the most anticipated announcements in each community hosting a celebration will be the naming of the community torchbearer. They have been nominated by fellow members of their own city, town or village as the person who best exemplifies their civic pride and the Olympic spirit. This torchbearer – whose name will remain a closely guarded secret in some communities until the celebration starts – will have the special task of lighting a cauldron on stage during the festivities. The curved white cauldron, which stands 1.3 metres high, complements the look of the Olympic Torch. Both the cauldron and the torch were designed by Bombardier in collaboration with VANOC.
Before beginning its journey across Canada, the Olympic Flame will be lit by the power of the sun on October 22 during a time-honoured ceremony almost 10,000 kilometres away in Olympia, site of the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Officials will present the flame to VANOC a week later in Athens’ Panathinaiko Stadium after a brief relay through Greece.
Sheltered in a security lantern, similar to a miner’s lantern, the Olympic Flame will embark on a trans-Atlantic flight to Canada on board a Canadian Armed Forces’ aircraft. Less than 24 hours later, it will arrive in Victoria, BC, where it is anticipated thousands will cheer on the starting point of the relay and enjoy the first community celebration.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay will visit more than 1,030 communities from coast to coast to coast across Canada before it finishes its 106-day journey in downtown Vancouver on February 12, 2010 when the Olympic Flame will light the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in front of a television audience of billions. During the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history, 12,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame and at various opportunities will feature nearly 100 alternative transportation modes, including dogsled, Haida canoe, chuckwagon, seaplane, ice resurfacer, and double-decker bus.