Sunday, December 20, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay Mississauga, ON - December 19, 2009

After an early morning in Georgetown, we rushed home for some breakfast and then headed to Mississauga for their portion of the Olympic Torch Relay. Mississauga is a suburb of Toronto and located 30-40minutes west of the city. The Torch was scheduled to arrive between 11am-noon.

The Olympic Torch is coming!

Again my Mom and I walked a bit of the route to find the best place to be. In Georgetown we learned that the Torchbearer exchange is marked with an orange sticker. We walked around looking for one of these and found one on Burnhamthorpe Road, just west of Hurontario Street. There weren’t too many people here yet but as it got closer to 11:30 more people began to appear.

Orange marks the spot.  If you want to see a Torchbearer exchange, look for these markers along the route.

For those of you who don’t know Mississauga, this intersection is extremely busy. I had no idea how they were going to close this down for the relay. Somehow they managed to do it and it wasn’t long before we could see the convoy arriving again! Burnhamthorpe is a long street so we could actually see it coming from a distance. I tell you, the site of it appearing in the distance and watching as it gets closer is really something. We watched the Torchbearer exchange happen. When this Torchbearer was dropped off, he was crying as friends and family hugged him and took photos. As he ran, he was all smiles, enjoying this proud moment and even joking with his family, some of whom were running beside him.

As the Torchbearer began to jog up the street, my Mom said she wanted to run along with it and that is what we did. So close to it, we ran all the way up to the next exchange. I even got a chance to see my GM friend, Art, from Twitter and his ride along buddy for the day James Hamilton. See the blog post James did on his day with Art and the Torch Relay Convoy.
As the convoy made its way around the shopping mall, we walked up to the Torch Celebration. Many people were there waiting for the Torch to make its entrance to the stage. We found a place in between the people and watched it approach again. It was carried by Cheryl Pounder, a Mississauga resident and a Women’s Hockey Gold Medallist. She carried the flame up to the stage and lit the cauldron. The Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, who is something of a legend in the city, made a wonderful speech about Canada being the greatest country to live in and the inspiration the Torch and the Olympics is to the younger generation. The crowd even chanted “Hazel, Hazel” at one point. The gentleman beside me asked, “Is there any other city who loves their Mayor as much as we do?” The answer is no, there isn’t.

Torchbearer heading West on Burnhamthorpe Road.  Notice the cars and people on the other side of the street.

We left the celebration a bit early because we wanted to see the Torch make its exit. It was carried back towards Hurontario on Burnhamthorpe by the Mississauga Braves Hockey team. Each member got to carry the torch 50 yards before handing it off to another team member. If you think one Torchbearer is impressive, let me tell you that 15-20 of them all in those white uniforms is really a great site. Again we went running alongside the Torch. As we were running, I noticed people in cars on the other side of the street, were getting out of their cars to clap and cheer as the Torch was carried by. Others were out of their cars taking pictures and several honked their horns. It was amazing to see. Even as I watched the Torch be carried south on Hurontairo, towards Port Credit, horns were going like crazy. It was unreal. The amount of respect people were showing for the Torch, for the Olympics and for their country is unforgettable. For me it will be one of the most memorable moments of the Torch Relay. I can’t think of too many things that would get this kind of reaction from people. I watched it for as long as I could. I would have loved to continue to follow it but I knew I had to turn back and find my Mom.

Great turn out in Mississauga for the Torch Celebration. Hazel is on stage, standing by the cauldron.

What a day to remember. This was the third Torch Relay I attended. Each one has its special moments and memories for me. I am on a quest to see as many as I can.
To see all the photos from the Mississauga Torch Relay, click here to view the photos online.


Art, my GM Twitter friend, @GM_ArtandSerge, and James in the passenger seat.

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